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Data from: Soil carbon maintained by perennial grasslands over 30 years but lost in field crop systems in a temperate Mollisol

Cite this dataset

Dietz, Clarissa; Jackson, Randall; Ruark, Matthew; Sanford, Gregg (2024). Data from: Soil carbon maintained by perennial grasslands over 30 years but lost in field crop systems in a temperate Mollisol [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.b8gtht7mv

Abstract

To mitigate climate change, some seek to store carbon from the atmosphere in agricultural soils. However, our understanding about how agriculture affects soil organic carbon is muddied by studies (1) lacking longitudinal data, (2) ignoring bulk density changes, or (3) sampling only surface soils. To better understand soil organic carbon trends, here we measured changes over 30 years in density-corrected, full-soil-depth (90 cm) soil organic carbon stocks under 6 cropping systems and a restored prairie in a Mollisol of southern Wisconsin, USA. Cash-grain systems and alfalfa-based systems lost soil organic carbon. Prairie and rotationally-grazed pasture maintained soil organic carbon. Average soil organic carbon losses for cash-grain and alfalfa-based systems were −0.82 (±0.12) and −0.64 (±0.17) Mg C ha-1 yr-1, respectively. Sensitivity analysis showed that incomplete methodologies overestimated soil organic carbon improvements. Our findings using more comprehensive methods demonstrate the inadequacy of row-crop systems and the need for well-managed grasslands to protect soil organic carbon in productive agricultural soils of the Upper Midwest USA.

README: Soil carbon maintained by perennial grasslands over 30 years but lost in field crop systems in a temperate Mollisol

https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.b8gtht7mv

This dataset contains percent carbon, percent nitrogen, and soil bulk density data for samples from the Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial (WICST) collected in 1989, 2009, and 2019. WICST compares six cropping systems and a restored native grassland common to the Upper Midwest United States of America in a randomized complete block design. This data was collected to measure changes in soil organic carbon stocks over time as a result of different cropping systems and land use.

Description of the data and file structure

This data is available as an Excel spreadsheet and associated Microsoft Word document. In these, there is a full description of the experiment and data.

Code/Software

SAS code used to analyze the data using a linear mixed effects model is available in the Supplementary Information of the associated manuscript.

Changes since initial upload

June 25, 2024: Title changed to reflect a change in the title of the manuscript.

June 25, 2024: %N column removed from dataset due to possible errors in 1989 data. %N data was not used in the manuscript.

July 10th, 2024: Changes to the 1989 data were made to correct for erroneously labeled GPS data. This change minorly impacts the 1989 %C, 1989 BD, 2009 SOC_Mg_ha, and 2019 SOC_Mg_ha values, but does not change the SOC trends between systems and over time.

Funding

United States Department of Agriculture Climate Hubs, Award: 2019-67013-29202, National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), Award: H009987615, North Central

United States Department of Agriculture, Award: WIS03057, Hatch grant

U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, Award: NACA 58-5090-1-028