Six, J., E. T. Elliott, and K. Paustian. 2000. Soil macroaggregate turnover and microaggregate formation: A mechanism for C sequestration under no-tillage agriculture. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 32:2099-2103.
Soil disturbance from tillage is a major cause of organic matter depletion and reduction in the number and stability of soil aggregates when native ecosystems are converted to agriculture. No-till (NT) cropping systems usually exhibit increased aggregation and soil organic matter relative to conventional tillage (CT). However, the extent of soil organic matter changes in response to NT management varies between soils and the mechanisms of organic matter stabilization in NT systems are unclear. We evaluated a conceptual model which links the turnover of aggregates to soil organic matter dynamics in NT and CT systems; we argue that the rate of macroaggregate formation and degradation (i.e. aggregate turnover) is reduced under NT compared to CT and leads to a formation of stable microaggregates in which carbon is stabilized and sequestered in the long term. Therefore, the link between macroaggregate turnover, microaggregate formation, and C stabilization within microaggregates partly determines the observed soil organic matter increases under NT.
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