Journal article

Land use and soil texture effects on organic carbon change in dryland soils, Senegal

Soil organic carbon (SOC) losses due to poor soil management in dryland are now well documented. However, the in- fluence of soil properties on organic carbon change is not well known. The groundnut plant (Arachis hypogaea L.), and the dominant crop system in the Senegal’s Soudanian zone, have been compared with semi-natural savanna. Leaves, stems and roots biomass were measured, and soil characteristics were analysed. The total leaves and stems biomass was 1.7 and 2.7 Mg ha−1 dry matter in groundnut fields and savanna respectively. Total SOC stocks were low (8 to 20 Mg C·ha−1 within upper 0.2 m depth, 20 to 64 Mg C·ha−1 within upper 1 m depth) and were significantly lower (P < 0.05) in sandy soils than in sandy clayey soils, and lower (approximately 27% - 37%) in groundnut fields than in savanna soils. δ13C values show that SOC quality is transformed from the savanna plants (C4/C3 mixed-pools) to C3-pools in groundnut cultivated zone, with the organic matter signature more preserved in the clayey soils. This study confirms that converting woodland to groundnut fields provokes texture transformation and SOC loss. The results call for the extreme necessity to regenerate the wooded zone or encourage practices that favour SOC restitution.


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