Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-2021-19
https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-2021-19

  18 Mar 2021

18 Mar 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal SOIL.

Synergy between compost and cover crops leads to increased subsurface soil carbon storage

Daniel Rath1, Nathaniel Bogie2, Leonardo Deiss3, Sanjai Parikh1, Daoyuan Wang4, Samantha Ying5, Nicole Tautges6, Asmeret Asefaw Berhe7, and Kate Scow1 Daniel Rath et al.
  • 1Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, University of California Davis, Davis, CA 95618, USA
  • 2Department of Geology, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA 95192, USA
  • 3School of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University, Wooster, OH 44691, USA
  • 4Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Shanghai University, Shanghai, OH 200444, CHN
  • 5Department of Environmental Sciences, University of California Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521, USA
  • 6Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, East Troy, WI 53120, USA
  • 7Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of California Merced, Merced, CA 95342, USA

Abstract. Subsurface carbon stocks are a prime target for efforts to increase soil carbon storage for climate change mitigation and improving soil health. However, subsurface carbon (C) dynamics are not well understood, especially in soils under long term intensive agricultural management. We compared subsurface C dynamics in tomato-corn rotations after 25 years of differing C and nutrient management in the California Central Valley: CONV (mineral fertilizer), CONV+WCC (mineral fertilizer + cover crops) and ORG (composted poultry manure + cover crops). Our results showed a ~19 Mg/ha increase in SOC stocks down to 1 m under ORG systems, no significant SOC increases under CONV+WCC or CONV systems, and the accumulation of carboxyl rich C in the subsurface (60–100 cm) horizons of all systems. Systems also had greater amounts of aromatic carbon in the order ORG>CONV+WCC>CONV. We identified a potential interaction between cover crops and compost, theorizing that increased macropores from cover crop roots facilitate the transport of soluble C and nutrients into the subsurface, thereby increasing stocks. These results demonstrate the potential for subsurface carbon storage in tilled agricultural systems and highlight a potential pathway for increasing carbon transport and storage in subsurface soil layers.

Daniel Rath et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • AC1: 'Comment on soil-2021-19', Daniel Rath, 08 Apr 2021
  • RC1: 'Comment on soil-2021-19', Jonathan Sanderman, 17 Apr 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC1', Daniel Rath, 28 May 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on soil-2021-19', Erika Foster, 21 Apr 2021
    • RC3: 'Reply on RC2', Erika Foster, 21 Apr 2021
      • AC3: 'Reply on RC2', Daniel Rath, 28 May 2021
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC2', Daniel Rath, 28 May 2021

Daniel Rath et al.

Data sets

Data Set - Github Daniel Rath, Nathaniel Bogie, Leonardo Deiss, Sanjai Parikh, Daoyuan Wang, Nicole Tautges, Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, and Kate Scow https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4558161

Model code and software

Code for Analysis - Github Daniel Rath, Nathaniel Bogie, Leonardo Deiss, Sanjai Parikh, Daoyuan Wang, Nicole Tautges, Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, and Kate Scow https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4558161

Daniel Rath et al.

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Short summary
Storing C in subsurface soils can help mitigate climate change, but this requires a better understanding of subsurface C dynamics. We investigated changes in subsurface C storage after 25 years under a combination of compost, cover crops (WCC), and mineral fertilizer, and found a potential WCC – compost interaction. Pores from WCC roots facilitate subsurface C and nutrient transport, increasing C stocks and demonstrating the potential for subsurface carbon storage in tilled agricultural systems.