More replenishment than priming loss of soil organic carbon with additional carbon input

Published by Stephanie Mayer on

Increases in carbon (C) inputs to soil can replenish soil organic C (SOC) through various mechanisms. However, recent studies have suggested that the increased C input can also stimulate the decomposition of old SOC via priming. Whether the loss of old SOC by priming can override C replenishment has not been rigorously examined. Here we show, through data–model synthesis, that the magnitude of replenishment is greater than that of priming, resulting in a net increase in SOC by a mean of 32% of the added new C. The magnitude of the net increase in SOC is positively correlated with the nitrogen-to-C ratio of the added substrates. Additionally, model evaluation indicates that a two-pool interactive model is a parsimonious model to represent the SOC decomposition with priming and replenishment. Our findings suggest that increasing C input to soils likely promote SOC accumulation despite the enhanced decomposition of old C via priming.