Article CC BY 4.0
refereed
published

Flower strips as a carbon sequestration measure in temperate croplands

Affiliation
Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Blichers Allé 20, Tjele, Denmark
Harbo, Laura Sofie;
Affiliation
Thuenen Institute of Climate-Smart Agriculture, Bundesallee 50, Brunswick, Germany
Schulz, Gesa;
GND
130894151X
Affiliation
Thuenen Institute of Climate-Smart Agriculture, Bundesallee 50, Brunswick, Germany
Heinemann, Henrike;
GND
13314917X
VIAF
25784452
Affiliation
Thuenen Institute of Climate-Smart Agriculture, Bundesallee 50, Brunswick, Germany
Dechow, René;
GND
1025492234
Affiliation
Thuenen Institute of Climate-Smart Agriculture, Bundesallee 50, Brunswick, Germany
Poeplau, Christopher

Purpose
Flower strips have been shown to increase insect biodiversity and improve agricultural yields through increased pollination and pest predation. Less is known about their potential to increase soil organic carbon (SOC). We aimed to investigate the biomass production and SOC sequestration potential of flower strips as a sustainable management option of temperate agricultural soils.
Methods
23 flower strips across varying soil types and climatic regions in Germany were sampled for aboveground and belowground peak biomass in order to estimate the annual carbon input to the soil. Those were used as 23 scenarios to model the potential SOC sequestration of the flower strips compared to a business-as-usual scenario for 1533 sites of the German Agricultural Soil Inventory using the RothC model.
Results
On average, flower strips sequestered 0.48?±?0.36 Mg C ha-1 year-1 in the initial 20-year period after establishment. Converting 1 % of the total German cropland area into flower strips would thus lead to a mitigation of 0.24 Tg CO2 year-1, which equals 0.4 % of current agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in Germany.
We found a negative correlation between C sequestration rate and the number of plant species in the flower strips, mainly related to grasses outcompeting herbaceous species.
Conclusion
Flower strips are one overlooked option for increasing SOC stocks of croplands that has multiple benefits for agro-ecosystems. However, within a flower strip it might not be possible to maximise both plant biodiversity and SOC sequestration.

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