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