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Sustainable nutrient management practices have the potential to enhance carbon (C) storage capacity of agricultural soils that may help offset increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration. Nutrient management practices on long-term basis differentially influence aggregates and distribution of soil organic C (SOC) present within aggregates, which in time may affect C stabilization. The present study assessed the impact of long-term application of fertilizers for 44 years either alone or integration with farmyard manure (FYM) on bulk density, SOC and C pools, potassium permanganate oxidizable C (KMnO4), aggregate stability and distribution of C fractions within different size aggregate under maize-wheat cropping sequence. The application of 100%NPK+FYM significantly (P< 0.05) improved soil aggregation and mean weight diameter (MWD). The percent of macro-aggregates (MacroA) and meso-aggregates (MesoA) was maximum in 100%NPK+FYM followed by NPK and the minimum in the control treatment. Irrespective of aggregate classes, TOC (g kg-1 aggregate) was maximum in 100%NPK+FYM treatment with an average of 8.42 g kg-1 aggregate as compared to control (5.05 g kg-1 aggregate). If averaged across the treatments, TOC concentration in aggregates followed the order MacroA> MesoA>MicroA. Correspondingly, results for KMnO4-C were similar in different treatments and aggregate classes. Application of FYM with inorganic fertilizers (NPK) or NPK showed a significant increase in all oxidizable organic C fractions particularly recalcitrant C fraction, which reflects the stable nature of OC as compared to very labile and labile C fractions. In general, C present in mineral fraction and large-sized aggregates (MacroA) has higher recalcitrant fractions of SOC as compared to small-sized aggregates (MesoF and MicroF). The study concluded that long-term balanced and integrated nutrient management improved soil aggregation, C distribution within aggregates, and C storage capacity of soils under maize-wheat. Carbon associated with macro aggregate and a mineral fraction has more recalcitrant C fraction compared to meso and micro aggregate fractions.
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