Leerstoelgroep Landdynamiek, CB - Bodemfysica en Landgebruik, Land Dynamics, SS - Soil Physics and Land Use
Estimates on soil organic carbon (SOC) and nitrogen (N) stocks in soils cannot be directly calculated from routine soil analyses, since these often lack measurements on soil bulk density (Bd). Hence, flexible pedotransfer functions are required that allow the calculation of SOC stocks from gravimetrically determined SOC contents. The present paper aimed to: (1) quantify SOC and N stocks in grassland topsoils for a Northern Dutch region dominated by dairy farming and (2) analyse the relationships between SOC and bulk density at the field level. As estimates of SOC and N stocks are potentially affected by soil compaction, the combined measurements on soil bulk density and soil organic matter (SOM) were also evaluated with respect to critical limits for soil compaction using soil density (Sd) for sandy soils and packing density (Pd) for clay soils. The SOC and Bd measurements were done in the upper 0·1–0·2 m of grasslands at 18 dairy farms, distributed across sandy, clay and peat soils. Both farm data and grassland management data were collected. Non-linear regressions were used to analyse relationships between Bd and SOM. Significant non-linear relationships were found between gravimetric SOC contents and bulk density for the 0–0·1 m layer (R2=0·80) and the 0·1–0·2 m layer (R2=0·86). None of the fields on sandy soils or clay soils indicated signs for limited rooting in the topsoil although some fields appear to approach the critical limit for compaction for the 0·1–0·2 m layer. Stocks of SOC in the top 0·2 m at farm level were highest in the peat soils (21·7 kg/m2) and lowest in the sandy soils (9·0 kg/m2). Similarly, N stocks were highest for farms on peat soil (1·30 kg/m2) and lowest for farms on sandy soil (0·60 kg/m2). For the sandy soils, the mean SOC stock was significantly higher in fields with shallow groundwater tables.