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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Assessing Soil and Soil Carbon Redistribution Patterns Using Radioactive Fallout 137 Cesium

Authors
item Ritchie, Jerry
item McCarty, Gregory
item Venteris, Erik
item Owens, Lloyd
item Kaspar, Thomas
item Nearing, Mark

Submitted to: GCTE-LUCC Open Science Conference on Global Change Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: November 30, 2003
Publication Date: November 12, 2003
Citation: Ritchie, J.C., McCarty, G.W., Venteris, E.R., Owens, L.B., Kaspar, T.C., Nearing, M.A. 2003. Assessing soil and soil carbon redistribution patterns using radioactive fallout 137 Cesium [abstract]. Abstracts of 2003 Global Climate Terrestrial Ecology Meeting in Tucson, Arizona. p. 28.

Technical Abstract: Patterns of soil organic carbon (SOC), the largest component of the terrestrial carbon cycle, vary with climate, topography, biological activity, soil movement, and land management leading to large uncertainties/changes in the SOC budget especially in agricultural areas. This study was designed to determine SOC distribution related to soil movement. Soil redistribution (erosion/deposition) patterns were estimated using radioactive fallout cesium-137. Agricultural landscapes were sampled in Maryland, Ohio, and Iowa. A semiarid rangeland area was sampled in Arizona. In the Iowa field, SOC had an order of magnitude difference in concentration (0.5 to 5%) and was significantly correlated to soil cesium-137 concentration and soil erosion/deposition rates. Sites of soil erosion have lower concentrations of SOC (2.4 %) than sites of soil deposition (3.4 %). SOC was highly correlated with cesium-137 concentration in the soil. Similar patterns were noted for the Ohio and Maryland fields. These studies show the importance of being able to measure soil redistribution patterns within a field to understand SOC patterns and the potential of developing or implementing better management systems to increase SOC in agricultural areas based patterns of soil movement. With climate, soil movement, and SOC being interdependent components of the earth's hydrologic and carbon budgets, combining information on soil movement and SOC from different locations will allow a better understanding of SOC budgets.

Last Modified: 11/23/2014
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