Geographers of Altai State University, within the framework of international projects, have developed models of the regional balance of soil carbon

18 May 2021 Department of Information and Media Communications
The authoritative Dutch journal Geoderma, which is one of the status publications in the field of soil research and is simultaneously indexed in the Scopus and Web of Science databases (Q1, IF = 4.484), published an article by an international scientific team, which included Associate Professor of the Department of Economic Geography and Cartography of the Institute of Geography of Altai State University Andrei Bondarovich.

The article "Consequences of chemical pretreatments in particle size analysis for modeling wind erosion" is devoted to the study of soil particle size distribution and its effect on soil carbon content to assess the potential of soil erosion in Kazakhstan.

“Global climate change has now become an essential element of political manipulation. For example, the Paris Agreement (2016) obliges member states to comply with "carbon neutrality", which, in fact, means a reduction in emissions of 6 types of gases, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). The largest contribution to the greenhouse effect and warming of the Earth is supposedly made by carbon dioxide (according to various estimates from 9 to 26%), and, as a consequence, carbon, which forms organic compounds that are the basis of life on Earth. The most striking example is humus, the main organic matter of the soil, containing the nutrients needed by plants. According to the world's leading experts, soils are the world's largest reservoir of carbon, accumulating 3.3 times more than the atmosphere and 4.5 times more than biota. In this regard, the quantitative assessment of carbon on agricultural lands and the impact of carbon removal through erosion processes on climate change are of great fundamental, applied and geopolitical significance,” said A. Bondarovich.

For the study of this problem within Altai Krai for 5 years from 2011 to 2016, the efforts of Russian and German scientists were directed within the framework of the project “How to prevent the global dust bowl syndrome? Environmental and economic strategies for sustainable land use in arid steppes of Russia: contribution to global climate change”, further referred as “Kulunda”. Within the framework of the project, regional carbon balance models were developed, which made it possible not only to quantify the loss of soil carbon as a result of the virgin campaign of 1954-1965. in Altai Krai, but also to predict changes in the carbon balance, taking into account climate change and land use changes until 2100, which is one of the benchmarks for the Paris Agreement (2016).

"The continuation of the Kulunda project is the German-Kazakh-Russian project: "Development of innovative climate-adapted techniques for the sustainable use of agricultural resources in the arid steppes of Kazakhstan and South-West Siberia" (2018-2021). The first results of joint expeditionary and laboratory research of the 2018 season in Kazakhstan with scientists from the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg received recognition from the world expert community, which is confirmed by the publication of our joint article in the journal Geoderma," said AltSU’s scientists.

According to the estimates of the World Agricultural and Food Organization (FAO), Kazakhstan is one of the world's largest grain exporters. So, in 2009 it demonstrated its yield potential with 2.5% of world wheat production (Triticum L). Being the largest country in Central Asia, it is the most important grain exporter with up to 84.5 million hectares of agricultural land. At the same time, Kazakhstan, according to A. Bondarovich is likely to become one of the "hot spots" of heat stress for wheat in the scenario of future climate change A1B (2071–2100). Water scarcity and wind erosion will affect agricultural productivity in Kazakhstan by about 25.5 million hectares. Countering these changes requires reliable tools and methods to quantify the risk of soil erosion in current and future climates.

Soil texture (particle size distribution - ratio of different fractions) is a key component of any dataset used to implement sustainable farming practices, and is one of the main soil properties that affect its susceptibility to water and wind erosion. Granulometric data is used in various models to assess water and wind erosion. For example, WEPS, a Wind Erosion Prediction System with a Wind Erosion Evaluation Program (SWEEP) sub-model, has been widely used in the United States, where wind erosion is a serious problem.

“In our work, we used a sub-model (SWEEP), which is part of the model (WEPS) and allows us to estimate soil loss for a one-day “dust storm”under the influence of input data for a specific site,” explains Andrey. “The work is complex and covers all the existing tools of modern soil research: field research - taking soil samples in the field, conducting an experiment on wind erosion using unique installations, laboratory work - various options for soil sample preparation, determining the particle size distribution by laser diffraction and then using this input for modeling."

The uniqueness of the study, according to A. Bondarovich, is not only that it is methodological in nature, which is associated with various options for the preparation of soil samples to determine the particle size distribution, but also the applied result, which is the identification of critical parameters for the occurrence of erosion processes. In addition, scientists have found approaches to determining the stability of soil aggregates and established critical boundaries when wind erosion occurs and which particles are most involved in this process for chestnut soils and chernozems common in Kazakhstan and Russia in various uses: pastures, arable land, and different soil treatment options: deep tillage and No-Till.

Cooperation of Altai State University with Kazakh and German researchers in the field of science and education creates a multiplying effect. At the moment, a unique project "Turkic World of the Greater Altai" is gaining momentum at Altai State University, which implies closer cooperation with leading  scientists from Central Asia.

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