Intra-versus inter-site macroscale variation in biogeochemical properties along a paddy soil chronosequence
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In order to assess the intrinsic heterogeneity of paddy soils, a set of biogeochemical soil parameters was investigated in five field replicates of seven paddy fields (50, 100, 300, 500, 700, 1000, and 2000 yr of wetland rice cultivation), one flooded paddy nursery, one tidal wetland (TW), and one freshwater site (FW) from a coastal area at Hangzhou Bay, Zhejiang Province, China. All soils evolved from a marine tidal flat substrate due to land reclamation. The biogeochemical parameters based on their properties were differentiated into (i) a group behaving conservatively (TC, TOC, TN, TS, magnetic susceptibility, soil lightness and colour parameters, d 13C, d 15N, lipids and n-alkanes) and (ii) one encompassing more labile properties or fast cycling components (N mic, C mic, nitrate, ammonium, DON and DOC). The macroscale heterogeneity in paddy soils was assessed by evaluating intra-versus inter-site spatial variability of biogeochemical properties using statistical data analysis (descriptive, explorative and non-parametric). Results show that the intrinsic heterogeneity of paddy soil organic and minerogenic components per field is smaller than between study sites. The coefficient of variation (CV) values of conservative parameters varied in a low range (10% to 20%), decreasing from younger towards older paddy soils. This indicates a declining variability of soil biogeochemical properties in longer used cropping sites according to progress in soil evolution. A generally higher variation of CV values (>20-40%) observed for labile parameters implies a need for substantially higher sampling frequency when investigating these as compared to more conservative parameters. Since the representativeness of the sampling strategy could be sufficiently demonstrated, an investigation of long-term carbon accumulation/sequestration trends in topsoils of the 2000 yr paddy chronosequence under wetland rice cultivation restricted was conducted. Observations cannot be extrapolated to global scale but with coastal paddy fields developed on marine tidal flat substrates after land reclamation in the Zhejiang Province represent a small fraction (<1%) of the total rice cropping area. The evolutionary trend showed that the biogeochemical signatures characteristic for paddy soils were fully developed in less than 300 yr since onset of wetland rice cultivation. A six-fold increase of topsoil TOC suggests a substantial gain in CO 2 sequestration potential when marine tidal wetland substrate developed to 2000 yr old paddy soil. © 2012 Author(s).
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