Multi-objective calibration of RothC using measured carbon stocks and auxiliary data of a long-term experiment in Switzerland

Cagnarini, Claudia ORCID:; Renella, Giancarlo; Mayer, Jochen; Hirte, Juliane; Schulin, Rainer; Costerousse, Benjamin; Della Marta, Anna; Orlandini, Simone; Menichetti, Lorenzo. 2019 Multi-objective calibration of RothC using measured carbon stocks and auxiliary data of a long-term experiment in Switzerland. European Journal of Soil Science, 70 (4). 819-832.

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Interactions between model parameters and low spatiotemporal resolution of available data mean that conventional soil organic carbon (SOC) models are often affected by equifinality, with consequent uncertainty in SOC forecasts. Estimation of belowground C inputs is another major source of uncertainty in SOC modelling. Models are usually calibrated on SOC stocks and fluxes from long‐term experiments (LTEs), whereas other point data are not used for constraining the model parameters. We used data from an agricultural long‐term (> 65 years) fertilization experiment to test a multi‐objective parameter estimation approach on the RothC model, combining SOC data from different fertilization treatments with microbial biomass, basal respiration and Zimmermann’s fractions data. We also compared two methods to estimate the belowground C inputs: a conventional scaling of belowground biomass from crop harvest yield and an alternative approach based on constant belowground C for cereals measured experimentally in the field. The resulting posterior parameter distributions still suffered from some equifinality; the most stable C pool kinetic constants and composition of exogenous organic matter were the most sensitive parameters. The use of fixed belowground C inputs for cereals improved the model performance, reducing the importance of treatment‐specific parameters and processes. The introduction of microbial biomass and basal respiration data was effective for increasing determination of the calibration, but also suggested a change in the model structure: the microbial biomass pool, which is proportional to the C inputs in the traditional models, could be represented by different microbial physiology functions.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Soils and Land Use (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 1351-0754
Additional Keywords: SOM dynamics, belowground C inputs, microbial biomass, basal respiration, Zimmermann’s fractions
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Agriculture and Soil Science
Date made live: 02 Apr 2019 10:47 +0 (UTC)

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