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Effect of ley inclusion in crop rotations on soil carbon stocks in a life cycle perspective

Moberg, Emma; Karlsson Potter, Hanna; Bolinder, Martin; Kätterer, Thomas; Parvin, Nargish; Lang, Rong


Carbon sequestration in agricultural soils has been proposed as an important climate change 
mitigation strategy. Carbon stocks in soils can be increased by different cropland management 
options, one of which is greater inclusion of perennial crops in crop rotations. This study compared 
the climate impact in a life cycle perspective of continuous ley-dominated rotations and continuous 
cereal rotations at two different sites (loam, clay) in Sweden. Effects of these systems on carbon 
content in topsoil and subsoil over 35 years were assessed based on data from two ongoing longterm field trials. The continuous cereal rotations led to a decrease in soil organic carbon stocks at 
both sites, resulting in an increase in overall climate impact of 8-19%. The ley-dominated rotations
increased soil organic carbon stocks at both sites over time, contributing to a decrease in overall 
climate impact of 7% (clay) and 18% (loam). The high soil carbon accumulation in the ley rotation 
at the site with loamy soil, where soil carbon stocks increased in both topsoil and subsoil, was
possibly due to more roots entering the subsoil than at the site with clay soil.


perennial crops; soil organic carbon sequestration; climate mitigation; subsoil

Published in

Mistra Food Futures Report
2022, number: 3ISBN: 978-91-8046-751-3, eISBN: 978-91-8046-750-6
Publisher: Mistra Food Futures