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Estimation of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) fluxes under Miscanthus and Lolium pasture; Effects of land use change

Niamh Smyth

Niamh Marie Smyth


Supervisor: Prof. Mike Jones

Conversion of agricultural land to energy crops has been identified as the land use change with the greatest potential for carbon mitigation across Europe. The impact of land use change and management on soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks has considerable potential to mitigate carbon emissions. Establishment of biomass crops such as Miscanthus x giganteus (Miscanthus) can increase carbon (C) storage in the soil, promoting increases in soil organic matter (SOM). DOM concentrations under Lolium, newly established Miscanthus stand and a well established (13 years) Miscanthus stand will be assessed by collecting leachate using tension lysimeters placed within the O horizon (~25cm) and mineral B horizon (~45cm). DOC will be tracked through the soil profile using Miscanthus’ natural σ13C tracer. This will enable us to identify the amount of ‘new C’ in the soil under the bioenergy crop. The hypotheses are a) that DOC and DON are significant components of the C and N cycles of terrestrial ecosystems and are influenced by land use change, b) that DOC and DON concentrations under Miscanthus will increase relative to the reference ‘time zero’ Lolium soil and c) that DOC in the soil under Miscanthus will predominantly be C4 derived (i.e. ‘new C’).

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Last updated 14 December 2009