14 Mar 2023
 | 14 Mar 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

A modified version of RothC to model the direct and indirect effects of rice straw mulching on soil carbon dynamics, calibrated in a Mediterranean citrus orchard

Simone Pesce, Enrico Balugani, José Miguel de Paz, Diego Marazza, and Fernando Visconti

Abstract. Mulching of agricultural soils has been identified as a viable solution to sequester carbon into the soil, increase soil health and fight desertification; as such, it is an interesting option for carbon farming in Mediterranean areas. Models are used to project the effects of agricultural practices on soil organic carbon in the future for various soil and climatic conditions, and to help policy makers and farmers assess the best way to implement carbon farming strategies. Here, we modify the widely used RothC model to include mulching practices and their direct and indirect effects on soil organic matter input, soil temperature changes, and soil hydraulic balance. We then calibrated and validated our modified RothC (RothC_MM) using the dataset collected in a field mulching experiment described in detail in a companying article, and used the validated RothC_MM to estimate the expected soil carbon sequestration by year 2050 due to mulching for the Valencian community (Spain). Our results show that RothC_MM improved the fit with experimental data with respect to basic RothC, and was able to predict SOC and CO2 observations taken in the field, and to model the effects of mulch on soil temperature and soil water content.

Simone Pesce et al.

Status: open (until 25 Apr 2023)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-298', Anonymous Referee #1, 29 Mar 2023 reply

Simone Pesce et al.


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Short summary
Covering the soil with plant residues (mulching) decreases soil erosion, insulates the soil to temperature fluctuations, decreases evaporation of soil water, and increases the soil organic matter, sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere to the soil. We modified an existing computer model widely used to predict changes in carbon content of the soil to include mulching and its effect on soil temperature, water content and carbon for rice straw covering the soil of a Mediterranean citrus orchard.