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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2014

What are the effects of agricultural management on soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks?

Söderström, Bo; Hedlund, Katarina; Jackson, Louise E; Kätterer, Thomas; Lugato, Emanuele; Thomsen, Ingrid K; Bracht Jørgensen, Helene


Background: Changes in soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks significantly influence the atmospheric C concentration. Agricultural management practices that increase SOC stocks thus may have profound effects on climate mitigation. Additional benefits include higher soil fertility since increased SOC stocks improve the physical and biological properties of the soil. Intensification of agriculture and land-use change from grasslands to croplands are generally known to deplete SOC stocks. The depletion is exacerbated through agricultural practices with low return of organic material and various mechanisms, such as oxidation/mineralization, leaching and erosion. However, a systematic review comparing the efficacy of different agricultural management practices to increase SOC stocks has not yet been produced. Since there are diverging views on this matter, a systematic review would be timely for framing policies not only nationally in Sweden, but also internationally, for promoting long-term sustainable management of soils and mitigating climate change.

Methods: The systematic review will examine how changes in SOC are affected by a range of soil-management practices relating to tillage management, addition of crop residues, manure or other organic "wastes", and different crop rotation schemes. Within the warm temperate and the snow climate zones, agricultural management systems in which wheat, barley, rye, oats, silage maize or oilseed rape can grow in the crop rotation will be selected. The review will exclusively focus on studies conducted over at least 10 years. Searches will be made in 15 publication databases as well as in specialist databases. Articles found will be screened using inclusion/exclusion criteria at title, abstract and full-text levels, and screening consistency will be evaluated using Kappa tests. Data from articles that remain after critical appraisal will be extracted using a predefined spreadsheet. Subgroup analyses will be undertaken to elucidate statistical relationships that are specific to particular type of management interventions. Meta-regression within subgroups will be performed as well as sensitivity analysis to investigate the impact of removing groups of studies with low or unclear quality.

Published in

Environmental Evidence
2014, Volume: 3, number: 2
Publisher: BioMed Central

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    Soil Science

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