Effects of grassland management on soil organic carbon density in agro-pastoral zone of Northern China
The objective of this study was to estimate the soil organic carbon (SOC) in grasslands with different management measures including: (1) uncontrolled or free grazing grassland (FG); (2) grassland enclosured, excluding grazing and mowing (EG); (3) grassland enclosured and mowed early in October every year (MG) and (4) grassland enclosured under controlled grazing (CG) by examining soil bulk density and SOC content from 0 to 50 cm soil depth in agro-pastoral ecotone, Northern China. The results showed that, by implementing CG, EG and MG practices, the grasslands in agro-pastoral ecotone of Northern China achieved higher SOC storage on decade scales when compared to FG field. CG field had the highest SOC density in 0 to 50 cm soil layer, while the least SOC density was displayed by FG. However, SOC density was similar between MG and EG plots. CG increased SOC concentration by 56.08% and SOC density by 4.96 kg/m2 when compared to FG practice. In addition, it was likely to give positive financial returns in providing livestock products when compared to EG practice. CG therefore was the most feasible and benign short-term grassland management option which could deposit even higher carbon dioxide in agro-pastoral ecotone in Northern China.
Key words: Agro-pastoral zone, soil organic carbon density, grassland management, Northern China.