Comparison of Prairie and Eroded Agricultural Lands on Soil Organic Carbon Retention (South Dakota)


The primary objective of this research was to predict changes in soil organic carbon (SOC) and total soil nitrogen (TSN) stocks as a result of land use change from prairie to agricultural land if the mesic-frigid temperature line moved north in the US and the former frigid soils were cultivated. The conversion of prairie to agricultural use, as a result of climate shift, would release SOC to atmosphere and enhance greenhouse gas emissions. The SOC and TSN differences between the prairie site and agricultural land were compared in South Dakota. The agricultural land had 18% less SOC and 16% less TSN or only half of the expected loss from prairie levels. An attempt was made to document the land use history of the prairie site to understand why SOC and TSN losses were less than anticipated. The fly ash concentration levels on prairie side slopes suggested that the prairie was historically disturbed and eroded. Intensive grazing and burning contributed to the disturbance. The SOC and TSN stock losses appear to represent the minimal change that would occur in the next 100-year time period if a prairie was shifted to agricultural use as a result of climate shift and the mesic-frigid temperature line in US was to move north.

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Olson, K. , Gennadiyev, A. , Kovach, R. and Schumacher, T. (2014) Comparison of Prairie and Eroded Agricultural Lands on Soil Organic Carbon Retention (South Dakota). Open Journal of Soil Science, 4, 136-150. doi: 10.4236/ojss.2014.44017.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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