Variation in soil carbon stocks with depth along a toposequence in a sub-humid climate in North Africa (Skikda, Algeria) (ScienceDirect Publication: Journal of Arid Environments)

Publication date: June 2017
Source:Journal of Arid Environments, Volume 141
Author(s): Zohra Bounouara, Tiphaine Chevallier, Jérôme Balesdent, Joele Toucet, Mahtali Sbih, Martial Bernoux, Noureddine Belaissaoui, Ouarda Bouneb, Rabah Bensaid
Deep soil carbon (>30 cm) is the primary pool of soil organic carbon (SOC). However, deep SOC is often not included in carbon inventories or management strategies, especially in North-Africa. The objective of the study was to determine the distribution and the main factors governing SOC storage along a representative toposequence in North-Eastern Algeria. The soil organic matter (SOM) was characterized by SOC content, carbon stocks, particle size distribution and mineralization potential.The amount and the dynamics of the deep SOC depended on the topographical position. In the mountain soils, most of the SOC stock (100 t C ha−1) was in the topsoil (0–30 cm) and associated with the >50 μm fractions (plant materials) whereas in the piedmont and alluvial plain soils, most of the SOC stock (168 t C ha−1) was accumulated in subsoil (30–100 cm) and associated with the <20 μm fractions (mineral fractions). The SOC in the subsoil contributed to SOC potential of mineralization and should not be underestimated, especially in the alluvial cultivated plains. This carbon should be considered as an important component in agro-ecological agriculture but it is also a potential source of CO2.