Soil organic carbon (SOC) is a potential indicator of soil quality and ecosystem sustainability. The present study aimed to evaluate SOC pools under major cropping systems of Mayiladuthurai district of Tamil Nadu. The composite samples were collected from two depths (0-15 and 15-30 cm) by stratified random sampling and were analysed for pH, EC (Electrical conductivity), C fractions, inorganic carbon and permanganate oxidisable carbon by standard procedures. The SOC content under different land use was in the order of Forestry > Rice – pulses > Rice – cotton > Sugarcane > Uncultivated. The mean SOC content of the study area was 12.58 Mg ha-1, where the majority of the area falls under low to medium rating of SOC. Hence, cultivation practices should incorporate activities that increase SOC to maintain soil quality. SOC was positively correlated with fractions of carbon – CVL (r = 0.37**), CL (r = 0.65**) and CLL (r = 0.58**), indicating changes in land use would affect the carbon dynamics of the ecosystem. The root biomass, aeration status, microbial activity, nutrient reserves and inherent soil characteristics influenced SOC to decrease with depth. The PCA analysis revealed that the variation in carbon dynamics of the study area was influenced by SOC, CLC, CLL and non-labile carbon due to differences in land management practices. Therefore, such soil management practices will be a powerful tool to sequester carbon, which supplements climate change mitigation.
Cauvery delta zone, Carbon dynamics, Carbon pools, Soil carbon
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