Effects of prairie strips on permanganate oxidizable carbon

Ceco Maples, Corinn Rutkoski and Dr. Sarah Evans
Integrative Biology

Presented at the All Scientist Meeting and Investigators Field Tour (2021-09-23 to 2021-09-23 )

Agricultural systems have the potential to sequester soil carbon through regenerative land management practices. However, because soil carbon requires decades to centuries to form and stabilize, it is difficult to measure short-term effects of management practices on soil carbon accrual. Active carbon, a labile C pool that is accessible to soil microbiota, has been shown to respond quickly to changes in management and serve as an early indicator of long-term C sequestration. In this project, we examine the influence of in-field prairie plantings (prairie strips) on soil active carbon. Soil samples were collected in 2019 and 2020 from Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge (Prairie City, IA), where prairie strips were planted in 2007. Soils were analyzed for permanganate oxidizable carbon as a measure of the active C pool. After 13 years of prairie strip establishment, there was no evidence of active C accrual in or near prairie strips. Prairie strip soils contained the same amount of active C as row crop soils at the same landscape position. Whereas crop active C decreased from 2019 to 2020, prairie strip active C was unchanged. Prairie strips appear to retain – but not increase – soil active C relative to crop soils after more than a decade of establishment.

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