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Sci Rep. 2016 Jan 13;6:19327. doi: 10.1038/srep19327.

Critical carbon input to maintain current soil organic carbon stocks in global wheat systems.

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LAPC, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, China.
CSIRO Agriculture, GPO Box 1666, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.


Soil organic carbon (SOC) dynamics in croplands is a crucial component of global carbon (C) cycle. Depending on local environmental conditions and management practices, typical C input is generally required to reduce or reverse C loss in agricultural soils. No studies have quantified the critical C input for maintaining SOC at global scale with high resolution. Such information will provide a baseline map for assessing soil C dynamics under potential changes in management practices and climate, and thus enable development of management strategies to reduce C footprint from farm to regional scales. We used the soil C model RothC to simulate the critical C input rates needed to maintain existing soil C level at 0.1° × 0.1° resolution in global wheat systems. On average, the critical C input was estimated to be 2.0 Mg C ha(-1) yr(-1), with large spatial variability depending on local soil and climatic conditions. Higher C inputs are required in wheat system of central United States and western Europe, mainly due to the higher current soil C stocks present in these regions. The critical C input could be effectively estimated using a summary model driven by current SOC level, mean annual temperature, precipitation, and soil clay content.

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