Are soils of Iowa USA currently a carbon sink or source? Simulated changes in SOC stock from 1972 to 2007

Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
By: , and 



Upscaling the spatial and temporal changes in carbon (C) stocks and fluxes from sites to regions is a critical and challenging step toward improving our understanding of the dynamics of C sources and sinks over large areas. This study simulated soil organic C (SOC) dynamics within 0–100 cm depth of soils across the state of Iowa in the USA from 1972 to 2007 using the General Ensemble biogeochemical Modeling System (GEMS). The model outputs with variation coefficient were analyzed and assembled from simulation unit to the state scale based upon major land use types at annual step. Results from this study indicate that soils (within a depth of 0–100 cm) in Iowa had been a SOC source at a rate of 190 ± 380 kg C ha−1 yr−1. This was likely caused by the installation of a massive drainage system which led to the release of SOC from deep soil layers previously protected under poor drainage conditions. The annual crop rotation was another major force driving SOC variation and resulted in spatial variability of annual budgets in all croplands. Annual rate of change of SOC stocks in all land types depended significantly on the baseline SOC levels; soils with higher SOC levels tended to be C sources, and those with lower levels tended to be C sinks. Management practices (e.g., conservation tillage and residue management practices) slowed down the C emissions from Iowa soils, but could not reverse the general trend of net SOC loss in view of the entire state due mainly to a high level of baseline SOC stocks.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Are soils of Iowa USA currently a carbon sink or source? Simulated changes in SOC stock from 1972 to 2007
Series title Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
DOI 10.1016/j.agee.2010.11.017
Volume 140
Issue 1-2
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Description 7 p.
First page 106
Last page 112
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