The Stable Isotopes Approach to Study C and N Sequestration Processes in a Plant Soil System

Giuseppe Celano, Francesco Alluvione, Mostafa Abdel Aziz Ali Mohamed, and Riccardo Spaccini

Abstract This chapter reviews the main methods for tracing N and C stable isotopes in natural and agricultural systems following organic and mineral amendments to soil. Moreover, we present the results obtained from two field experiments conducted, within the MESCOSAGR project, to evaluate either the fate and flow rate of N added as 15N-compost in a maize-soil system or the contribution of sorghum roots to soil organic carbon. Compost contribution to plant nutrition was about 20% of applied N in the first experimentation year, while this value decreased in the following 2 years. The mineralization rate in the first year was anyhow variable depending on compost maturity and composition, while compost amendments mostly affected the inclusion of 15N in soil macro-aggregates. The compost-derived nitrogen sequestered in soil, due to repeated amendments, was estimated to account for 34.2, 38.2 and 42.5% of total N-compost for the first, second and third years, respectively. On the other hand, it was found that soil carbon derived from sorghum residues reached about 28% after 3 years, though this percentage decreased with depth, and more rapidly below 30 cm.

Dipartimento Scienze dei Sistemi Colturali Forestali e dell'Ambiente, Universita degli Studi della Basilicata, Viale dell'Ateneo Lucano, 10, 85100 Potenza, Italy e-mail: [email protected]

F. Alluvione

Dipartimento di Agronomia, Selvicoltura e Gestione del Territorio, Universita di Torino, Via Leonardo da Vinci, 44, 10095 Grugliasco, Torino, Italy

R. Spaccini

Dipartimento di Scienza del Suolo, della Pianta, dell'Ambiente e delle Produzioni Animali, Universita di Napoli "Federico II", Via Universita 100, 85055 Portici, Napoli, Italy

A. Piccolo (ed.), Carbon Sequestration in Agricultural Soils,

DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-23385-2_5, © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

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