Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-468
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-468

  22 Dec 2020

22 Dec 2020

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Management induced changes of soil organic carbon on global croplands

Kristine Karstens1,3, Benjamin Leon Bodirsky1, Jan Philipp Dietrich1, Marta Dondini2, Jens Heinke1, Matthias Kuhnert2, Christoph Müller1, Susanne Rolinski1, Pete Smith2, Isabelle Weindl1, Hermann Lotze-Campen1,3, and Alexander Popp1 Kristine Karstens et al.
  • 1Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Member of the Leibniz Association, P.O. Box 60 12 03, 14412 Potsdam, Germany
  • 2Institute of Biological & Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK
  • 3Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Department of Agricultural Economics, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Germany

Abstract. Soil organic carbon (SOC) is one of the largest terrestrial carbon stocks on Earth. The first meter of the Earths soils profile stores three times as much carbon as the vegetation and twice the amount of C in the atmosphere. SOC has been depleted by anthropogenic land cover change and agricultural management. However, the latter has so far not been well represented in global carbon stock assessments. While SOC models often simulate detailed biochemical processes that lead to the accumulation and decay of SOC, the management decisions driving these biophysical processes are still little investigated at the global scale. Here we develop a spatial explicit data set for agricultural management on cropland, considering crop production levels, residue returning rates, manure application, and the adoption of irrigation and tillage practices. We combine it with the IPCC Tier 2 steady-state soil model to create a half-degree resolution data set of SOC stocks and SOC stock changes for the first 30 cm of mineral soils. We estimate that due to arable farming, soils have lost around 26 GtC relative to a counterfactual natural state in 1975. Yet, within the period 1975–2010 this SOC debt has been decreasing again by a net quantity of 4 Gt SOC, which can be mainly traced back to an increased input of C in crop residues due to higher crop productivity. We also find that SOC is very sensitive to management decisions such as residue returning indicating the necessity to incorporate better management data in soil model simulations.

Kristine Karstens et al.

 
Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment

Kristine Karstens et al.

Data sets

Model output data of the paper: "Management induced changes of soil organic carbon on global croplands" Kristine Karstens https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4320663

Model code and software

mrsoil: MadRat Soil Organic Carbon Budget Library Kristine Karstens and Jan Philipp Dietrich https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4317933

mrcommons: MadRat Commons Input Data Library Bodirsky, Benjamin Leon, Karstens, Kristine, Baumstark, Lavinia, Weindl, Isabelle, Wang, Xiaoxi, Mishra, Abhijeet, Wirth, Stephen, Stevanovic, Mishko, Steinmetz, Nele, Kreidenweis, Ulrich, Rodrigues, Renato, Popov, Roman, Humpenoeder, Florian, Giannousakis, Anastasis, Levesque, Antoine, Klein, David, Araujo, Ewerton, Beier, Felicitas, Oeser, Julian, Pehl, Michaja, Leip, Debbora, Molina Bacca, Edna, Martinelli, Eleonora, Schreyer, Felix, and Dietrich, Jan Philipp https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3822009

Kristine Karstens et al.

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Short summary
Soil organic carbon (SOC) has been depleted by anthropogenic land cover change and agricultural management. While SOC models often simulate detailed biochemical processes, the management decisions are still little investigated at the global scale. We estimate that soils have lost around 26 GtC relative to a counterfactual natural state in 1975. Yet, since 1975, SOC has been increasing again by 4 GtC due to a higher productivity, recycling of crop residues and manure and no tillage practices.
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