This study on soil carbon dynamics provides valuable insights for sustainable agricultural practices, optimizing crop productivity and environmental sustainability in maize-based cropping systems. The present study aimed to find out the soil characteristics and carbon dynamics in maize-based cropping systems in the Western zone of Tamil Nadu, India. Soil samples from six cropping systems were analyzed for bulk density, sand, silt, clay content, pH, available nutrients (N, P, K, Zn), total organic carbon (TOC), oxidizable organic carbon fractions, microbial biomass carbon (MBC), and carbon pools. The distribution of oxidizable organic carbon fractions varied among cropping systems and soil depths. The easily decomposable and moderately labile fractions were highest in the maize-black gram system, while the recalcitrant fraction showed variations across cropping systems. The active carbon pool (Cf1 + Cf2) was highest at 2.53 g kg-1 in the maize-blackgram system, while the passive carbon pool (Cf3 + Cf4) was also highest at 3.79 g kg-1 in this system. The study also assessed the carbon stock and microbial biomass carbon. TOC content decreased with depth, with the highest values observed in the topsoil. The maize-black gram system had the highest TOC content at all depths. MBC content followed a similar pattern, with the highest values in the topsoil and the maize-black gram system. These findings provided insights into the soil characteristics and carbon dynamics in maize-based cropping systems in the study area. The long-term integration of maize cultivation with blackgram demonstrated significant enhancements in organic carbon levels, TOC content, microbial biomass carbon (MBC), and both passive and active carbon pools characterized by rapid turnover rates.
Carbon stocks, Maize-based cropping systems, Microbial biomass carbon, Organic carbon dynamics, Soil carbon dynamics
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