Spatial patterns of and management effects on soil carbon in the Mattheis Research Ranch

Dr. Scott Chang | Professor
Department of Renewable Resources
Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences
University of Alberta

By systematically sampling rangelands and croplands within the Mattheis Research Ranch, Dr. Chang and co-investigator Dr. Zhiping Wang (Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences) were able to determine the spatial patterns of soil carbon on the property. The distribution of soil carbon was subsequently related back to the various grazing and cropping practices that are employed throughout the ranch. Throughout the grasslands of the ranch, more soil organic carbon (SOC) was present in low-lying areas, and in shrubby rather than in graminoid-dominated plant communities. SOC also varied among paddocks, resulting in a patchy distribution of soil carbon across the property. The investigators found that cultivation did not significantly cause the loss of SOC at the Mattheis Ranch.