UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Spatial Heterogeneity of Total and Labile Soil Organic Carbon Pools in Poplar Agroforestry Systems Wang, Bo; Su, Xiaolong; Wang, Tongli; Yang, Tao; Xu, Cheng; Lin, Zeyang; Tian, Di; Tang, Luozhong


Agroforestry systems are considered effective methods of carbon sequestration. In these systems, most of the carbon is stored in the soil, and the pattern of tree planting can influence the spatial distribution of organic matter input into the soil. However, limited information is available about the extent of this influence. In this study, the horizontal and vertical distributions of soil organic carbon (SOC) and labile fractions were investigated in four planting systems: a pure poplar (Populus deltoides cv. “35”) planting system, a wide-row (14 m spacing) poplar and wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) agroforestry system, a narrow-row (7 m spacing) poplar and wheat agroforestry system, and a pure wheat field. The results showed that although the poplar system had the highest vegetation biomass (147.50 t ha-¹), the agroforestry systems overall had higher SOC contents than the pure poplar system and wheat fields. Especially in the wide-row agroforestry system, the SOC, readily oxidizable carbon, and dissolved organic carbon contents were, respectively, 25.3%, 42.4%, and 99.3% higher than those of the pure poplar system and 60.3%, 148.7%, and 6.3% higher than those of the wheat field in a 1 m soil profile, and it also had the highest fine root biomass. However, the microbial biomass carbon content was highest in the pure poplar system. The SOC of the three poplar planting systems was spatially heterogeneous, with the highest values occurring at 1.5 m in the narrow-row systems and within the tree rows in the wide-row system, similar to the distribution of fine root biomass. Additionally, we found that the larger the diameter at the breast height of the trees, the greater their positive effect on SOC at greater distances.

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