Soil organic carbon fractions differ in two contrasting tall fescue systems

Iin P. Handayani, Mark S. Coyne, Timothy D. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The value of tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) for C sequestration in addition to forage production and soil conservation is of current interest. However, studies relating to the impacts of endophyte infected (E+) and endophyte free (E-) tall fescue on soil organic matter fractions are few. This study examined how E+ and E- growth affected soil C fractions 4 years after establishment. The study site was at the University of Kentucky research farm, Lexington, Kentucky, USA. From soil cores in replicated fields we measured total C, particulate organic matter C (POM C), microbial biomass C (MBC), mineralizable C (Min C), C in aggregates, and aggregate distribution at depths of 0 to 15 and 15 to 30 cm. Significant effects between E+ and E- fescue were sometimes observed for MBC, Min C, C in micro-aggregates, and aggregate distribution, but not for total C, and POM C. At 0-15 cm MBC (E+ 26% greater than E-), Min C (E+ 43% lower than E-), C associated with micro-aggregates (E+ 15% lower than E-), and micro-aggregates (46% more micro-aggregates in E+ than E-), were affected by endophyte infection, confirming hypotheses that early changes in soil properties were reflected in labile C fractions and soil structure. Endophyte infection status in tall fescue has quantifiable effects on C sequestration and soil structure, achievable in a relatively short period that can be used to monitor conservation efforts and the consequences of pasture renovation strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-50
Number of pages8
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This research was a part of the activities of Fulbright Senior Research Award. Additional support was provided by the USDA-ARS Forage Animal Production Unit (FAPRU) under Agreement no. 3049022644. Mention of trade names is for information purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station or USDA. We also thank Ann Freytag for assistance in the field and laboratory, and Jim Crutchfield for use of his laboratory facilities. Finally, we thank to reviewers for comments that significantly improved the quality of this manuscript.


  • Aggregation
  • Mineralizable C
  • Particulate organic matter
  • Soil microbial biomass
  • Tall fescue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


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