Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version

September 2007


Published in Agroforest Syst (2007) 71:163–174.


Carbon sequestration in the woody biomass of shelterbelts has been investigated but there have been no measurements of the C stocks in soil and tree litter under this agroforestry practice. The objective of this study was to quantify C stored in surface soil layers and tree litter within and adjacent to a 35-year-old shelterbelt in eastern Nebraska, USA. The 2-row shelterbelt was composed of eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris). A sampling grid was established across a section of the shelterbelt on Tomek silt loam (fine, smectitic, mesic Pachic Argiudolls). Four soil cores were collected at each grid point, divided into 0–7.5 and 7.5–15 cm depth increments, and composited by depth. Soil samples were analyzed for total, organic, and inorganic C, total N, texture, pH, and nutrient content. Under the shelterbelt, all surface litter in a 0.5 • 0.5 m2 area at each grid point was collected prior to soil sampling, dried, weighed, sorted, and analyzed for total C and N. Average soil organic carbon (SOC) in the 0–15 cm layer within the shelterbelt (3,994 g m-2) was significantly greater than in the cultivated fields (3,623 g m-2). The tree litter contained an additional ~1,300 g C m-2. Patterns of litter mass and soil pH and texture suggested increased organic inputs by tree litter and deposition of wind-blown sediment may be responsible for greater SOC beneath the shelterbelt. Further research is needed to identify the mechanism(s) responsible for the observed patterns of SOC within and adjacent to the shelterbelt and to quantify the C in biomass and deeper soil layers.