Long-term effect of a single application of organic refuse on Carbon sequestration and soil physical properties

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Restoration of degraded lands could be a way to reverse soil degradation and desertification in semiarid areas and mitigate greenhouse gases (GHG). Our objective was to evaluate the long-term effects of a single addition of organic refuse on soil physical properties and measure its carbon sequestration potential. In 1988, a set of five plots (87 m2 each) was established in an open desert-like scrubland (2–4% cover) in Murcia, Spain, to which urban solid refuse (USR) was added in a single treatment at different rates. Soil properties were monitored over a 5-yr period. Sixteen years after the addition, three of the plots were monitored again (P0: control, P1: 13 kg m–2, P2: 26 kg m–2 of USR added) to assess the lasting effect of the organic addition on the soil organic carbon (SOC) pools and on the physical characteristics of the soil. The SOC content was higher in P2 (16.4 g kg–1) and in P1 (11.8 g kg–1) than in P0 (7.9 g kg–1). Likewise, aerial biomass increased from 0.18 kg m–2 in P0 up to 0.27 kg m–2 in P1 and 0.46 kg m–2 in P2. This represents a total C sequestration of 9.5 Mg ha–1 in P2 and 3.4 Mg ha–1 in P1, most of the sequestered C remaining in the recalcitrant soil pool. Additionally, higher saturated hydraulic conductivity, aggregate stability, and available water content values and lower bulk density values were measured in the restored plots. Clearly, a single addition of organic refuse to the degraded soils to increase the potential for C sequestration was effective.

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