The resilience of soil organic carbon stocks under contrasting hill country pasture management practices


  • Alec Mackay AgResearch
  • Ronaldo Vibart AgResearch
  • Catherine McKenzie The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research
  • Brian Devantier AgResearch
  • Emma Noakes AgResearch



grasslands, long-term experiment, phosphorus fertiliser, sheep grazing


In 2020 we measured the stability of soil organic carbon (SOC) concentrations and stocks under contrasting hill country pasture regimes, by sampling three slope classes and three aspect locations on each of three farmlets of a long-term phosphorus fertiliser and sheep grazing experiment. The farmlets included no annual phosphorus (NF), 125 kg of single superphosphate/ha (LF), or 375 kg superphosphate/ha (HF) that has been applied on an annual basis since 1980. Results from the 2020 sampling event were added to previous results reported from soil samples collected in 2003 and 2014. The SOC concentrations in the topsoil (0-75 mm depth), ranging from 4.23 to 5.99% across all slopes and aspects of the farmlets, fell within the normal range (≥3.5 and <7.0%) required for sustaining production and environmental goals. A trend was shown for greater SOC stocks in the topsoil in the HF farmlet (34.0 Mg/ ha) compared with the other two farmlets (31.6 Mg/ha), but this trend was not evident in the deeper soil layers (75-150, 150-300, 0-300 mm). Under the current conditions, topographical features such as slope and aspect had a more profound influence on SOC stocks than management history.






Resilient Pastures Symposium 2021