Articles | Volume 4, issue 1
Research article
14 May 2013
Research article |  | 14 May 2013

Impacts of land use change in soil carbon and nitrogen in a Mediterranean agricultural area (Southern Spain)

L. Parras-Alcántara, M. Martín-Carrillo, and B. Lozano-García

Abstract. The agricultural Mediterranean areas are dedicated to arable crops (AC), but in the last decades, a significant number of AC has led to a land use change (LUC) to olive grove (OG) and vineyards (V). A field study was conducted to determine the long-term effects (46 years) of LUC (AC by OG and V) and to determine soil organic carbon (SOC), total nitrogen (TN), C : N ratio and their stratification across the soil entire profile, in Montilla-Moriles denomination of origin (D.O.), in Calcic-Chromic Luvisols (LVcc/cr), an area under semiarid Mediterranean conditions. The experimental design consisted of studying the LUC on one farm between 1965 and 2011. Originally, only AC was farmed in 1965, but OG and V were farmed up to now (2011). This LUC principally affected the horizon thickness, texture, bulk density, pH, organic matter, organic carbon, total nitrogen and C : N ratio. The LUC had a negative impact in the soil, affecting the SOC and TN stocks. The conversion from AC to V and OG involved the loss of the SOC stock (52.7% and 64.9% to V and OG respectively) and the loss of the TN stock (42.6% and 38.1% to V and OG respectively). With respect to the stratification ratios (SRs), the effects were opposite; 46 years after LUC increased the SRs (in V and OG) of SOC, TN and C : N ratio.