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Factors and mechanisms regulating soil organic carbon in agricultural systems
Soil organic carbon (SOC) is the part of carbon (C) in the soil that is derived from living organisms and plays an important role in the C cycle (Paustian et al. 1997). Soil is a major reservoir of soil C, at 3.3 times the size of the atmospheric pool of 760 pentagrams (Pg) and 4.5 times the size of the biotic pool of 560 Pg (Lal 2004). Soils act as a reservoir of SOC and the level of storage within an ecosystem is mainly dependent on the soil type, climate, land use history, and current management practices. The quantity of SOC stored in a particular soil is dependent on the quantity and quality of organic matter returned to the soil matrix, the soil's ability to retain SOC (a function of textrue and cation exchange capacity), and abiotic influences of both temperature and precipitation (Grace et al. 2005). SOC is essential for amintaining fertility, water retention, and plant production in terrestrial ecosystems with diffenent land sues (Grace et al. 2006). Soild organic matter (SOM) maintains soil structure and productivity in agroecosystems (Lal 2010). Maintaining high levels of SOM is beneficial for all agriculture and crucial in improving soil quality. SOM has been widely used as an effective indicator of the functional response of soils to land use intensification (Dala et al. 2003).