The NZAGRC’s former nitrous oxide and soil carbon work streams were combined into one programme this year. This ensures a strong overall framework, closer communication and full GHG analyses across the programme. The programme focusses on three key areas:
1. Identifying and prioritising plant traits for low GHG emissions;
2. Mitigation practices to maintain soil carbon and reduce nitrous oxide emissions at paddock scale; and
3. Defining the achievable soil carbon stabilisation capacity of New Zealand grassland soils.
Current progress and research stories
Establishment of Aporrectodea longa and measurement of dung carbon incorporation in soils under permanent pasture
Schon, N. L., A. D. Mackay, et al. (2016). "Establishment of Aporrectodea longa and measurement of dung carbon incorporation in soils under permanent pasture." European Journal of Soil Biology 75: 174-179.
Earthworm populations often have a large biomass in pasture soils and can significantly accelerate the disappearance of organic matter from the soil surface and its accumulation in soil layers. This field study investigated the influence of the anecic earthworm Aporrectodea longa on bulk soil C in permanent pastures two years after their introduction. We used the approach of measuring soil C and 13C after the application of C-enriched dung to paddocks with and without established A. longa populations (∼50 m−2). At three sites with differing soil types, dung incorporation into the soil was limited, suggesting that densities were still too low to influence bulk soil C. In a fourth pasture where A. longa had been present for 23 years, and had reached a density of 190 m−2, more dung-derived C was detected to 300 mm depth in the soil profile compared with the control without A. longa.
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