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SOIL An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Original research article 26 Jul 2018

Original research article | 26 Jul 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal SOIL (SOIL).

Evaluating the interaction between sediment fluxes, carbon dynamics and biomass production using an integrated model

Samuel Bouchoms1, Zhengang Wang2, Veerle Vanacker1, and Kristof Van Oost1 Samuel Bouchoms et al.
  • 1TECLIM - Georges Lemaître Centre for Earth and Climate Research, Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve 1348, Belgium
  • 2School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, 510275, China

Abstract. During the last centuries, forest clearance has led to an increase of the erosion rates by one to two orders of magnitude. Sustained accelerated soil erosion alters key soil properties such as nutrient, water availability, soil depth and soil texture, which in turns have detrimental effects on crop yields and therefore reduce C input to soils. In this study, we applied a 1-D model dynamically linking soil organic carbon (SOC) turnover, soil erosion and crop yield at the profile scale. We extracted a relationship linking crop yield to soil erosion based on available literature and categorized them into three functional forms: high sensitivity to erosion, linear response and low sensitivity to erosion. We tested and validated the model using published observational data from 12 catchments across Europe and the USA. Model evaluation showed that accounting for the erosion-crop yield feedback (i) increased SOC losses by 20 % on average and (ii) improved the SOC losses predictions, particularly for higher cumulative soil erosion, compared to the results obtained without the feedback. Cumulative vertical carbon fluxes were reduced by 15 to 71 % compared to the no-feedback model, although the large variability highlighted the need to perform site-specific adjustments of the erosion-crop yield relationship. Exploration of parameter sensitivity to SOC parameters and erosion showed that long-term simulations of both SOC loss and vertical C fluxes were primarily influenced by the erosion rate, the yield response to erosion and the depth distribution of the mineralization rate of organic matter. Our simulations further highlighted the increased SOC losses (−3 to −17 %) and reduced C uptake from the atmosphere (−30 %) in the erosion-crop yield feedback scenario, compared to the no-feedback scenario after 200 years, as well as the importance of the functional form of the erosion-crop yield relationship. Together, this modeling study shows that including the effects of erosion on crop yields has a large potential to reduce uncertainties associated with the estimation of the C budget in landscapes subjected to erosion.

Samuel Bouchoms et al.
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Samuel Bouchoms et al.
Samuel Bouchoms et al.
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Short summary
Sustained soil erosion have detrimental effect on soil fertility which in turns reduces carbon input to soils coming from crops. Our study integrated this effect into a model linking soil organic carbon (SOC) dynamics to erosion and yields. When compared to observations, the inclusion of yields evolution improved SOC losses predictions. Over centuries, ignoring yield evolution in models could result in an underestimation of SOC losses and overestimation of carbon exchanged with the atmosphere.
Sustained soil erosion have detrimental effect on soil fertility which in turns reduces carbon...