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Open AccessArticle

Soil Carbon Stocks in Two Hybrid Poplar-Hay Crop Systems in Southern Quebec, Canada

Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University, Ste Anne de Bellevue, QC, H9X 3V9, Canada
Institut de Recherche en Biologie Végétale, Université de Montréal & Jardin botanique de Montréal, Montreal, QC, H1X 2B2, Canada
Sciences Naturelles, Université du Québec en Outaouais, Ripon, QC, J0V 1V0, Canada
Department of Geography, McGill University, Montreal, QC, H3A 0B9, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2014, 5(8), 1952-1966;
Received: 20 January 2014 / Revised: 2 July 2014 / Accepted: 30 July 2014 / Published: 7 August 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest and Wood Vegetation Carbon Stores and Sequestration)
Tree-based intercropping (TBI) systems, consisting of a medium to fast-growing woody species planted in widely-spaced rows with crops cultivated between tree rows, are a potential sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). TBI systems contribute to farm income in the long-term by improving soil quality, as indicated by soil carbon (C) storage, generating profits from crop plus tree production and potentially through C credit trading. The objectives of the current study were: (1) to evaluate soil C and nitrogen (N) stocks in soil depth increments in the 0–30 cm layer between tree rows of nine-year old hybrid poplar-hay intercropping systems, to compare these to C and N stocks in adjacent agricultural systems; and (2) to determine how hay yield, litterfall and percent total light transmittance (PTLT) were related to soil C and N stocks between tree rows and in adjacent agricultural systems. The two TBI study sites (St. Edouard and St. Paulin) had a hay intercrop with alternating rows of hybrid poplar clones and hardwoods and included an adjacent agricultural system with no trees (i.e., the control plots). Soil C and N stocks were greater in the 0–5 cm depth increment of the TBI system within 1 m of the hardwood row, to the west of the poplar row, compared to the sampling point 1 m east of poplar at St. Edouard (p = 0.02). However, the agricultural system stored more soil C than the nine-year old TBI system in the 20–30 cm and 0–30 cm depth increments. Accumulation of soil C in the 20–30 cm depth increment could be due to tillage-induced burial of non-harvested crop residues at the bottom of the plow-pan. Soil C and N stocks were similar at all depth increments in TBI and agricultural systems at St. Paulin. Soil C and N stocks were not related to hay yield, litterfall and PTLT at St. Paulin, but hay yield and PTLT were significantly correlated (R = 0.87, p < 0.05, n = 21), with lower hay yield in proximity to trees in the TBI system and similar hay yields in the middle of alleys as in the agricultural system. Nine years of TBI practices did not produce significant gains in soil C and N stocks in the 0–30 cm layer, indicating that the total C budget, including C sequestered in trees and unharvested components (litterfall and roots), must be assessed to determine the long-term profitability of TBI systems in Canada. View Full-Text
Keywords: tree-based intercropping; land management; soil carbon storage tree-based intercropping; land management; soil carbon storage
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MDPI and ACS Style

Winans, K.; Whalen, J.K.; Cogliastro, A.; Rivest, D.; Ribaudo, L. Soil Carbon Stocks in Two Hybrid Poplar-Hay Crop Systems in Southern Quebec, Canada. Forests 2014, 5, 1952-1966.

AMA Style

Winans K, Whalen JK, Cogliastro A, Rivest D, Ribaudo L. Soil Carbon Stocks in Two Hybrid Poplar-Hay Crop Systems in Southern Quebec, Canada. Forests. 2014; 5(8):1952-1966.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Winans, Kiara; Whalen, Joann K.; Cogliastro, Alain; Rivest, David; Ribaudo, Lisa. 2014. "Soil Carbon Stocks in Two Hybrid Poplar-Hay Crop Systems in Southern Quebec, Canada" Forests 5, no. 8: 1952-1966.

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