Articles | Volume 8, issue 1
Solid Earth, 8, 83–91, 2017
Solid Earth, 8, 83–91, 2017

Research article 23 Jan 2017

Research article | 23 Jan 2017

Leguminous species sequester more carbon than gramineous species in cultivated grasslands of a semi-arid area

Yu Liu1,2, Fuping Tian3, Pengyan Jia1,3, Jingge Zhang1,3, Fujiang Hou4, and Gaolin Wu1,4,3 Yu Liu et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Water Resources, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, China
  • 2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • 3The Lanzhou Scientific Observation and Experiment Field Station of Ministry of Agriculture for Ecological System in the Loess Plateau Area, Lanzhou Institute of Animal and Veterinary Pharmaceutics Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Lanzhou, Gansu 730050, China
  • 4State Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-Ecosystems, College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, Gansu 730020, China

Abstract. The establishment of grasslands on abandoned cropland has been proposed as an effective method to mitigate climate change. In this study, five cultivated grasslands (three leguminous species and two gramineous species), one abandoned cropland, and one natural grassland were studied to examine how soil organic carbon (SOC) sequestration rate and sequestration efficiency change in a semi-arid area in China. Our results showed that leguminous grasslands had greater total biomass (above- and belowground biomass), SOC storage, SOC sequestration rate, and efficiency than gramineous grasslands, abandoned cropland, and natural grassland during the experimental period. The largest soil carbon (C) accumulation in leguminous grassland was mainly attributed to the capacity to incorporate C and the higher biomass production. Leguminous grasslands accumulated more SOC than gramineous grasslands by 0.64 Mg C ha−1 yr−1. The average SOC sequestration efficiency in leguminous grassland (1.00) was about 2 times greater than gramineous grassland (0.34). The results indicate that cultivated leguminous grassland sequestered more SOC with higher SOC sequestration efficiency than cultivated gramineous grassland in arid and semi-arid areas. Our results provide a reference for ecological management in arid and semi-arid areas.