Changes in the carbon concentrations and other soil properties of some Scottish agricultural soils: Evidence from a resampling campaign

Allan Lilly*, Nikki J. Baggaley, Anthony C. Edwards

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The change in soil carbon (C) concentration, soil pH and major nutrients for approximately 1,000 topsoil sampled from on-farm experimental sites over a thirty-year period from 1950 to 1980 in north-east Scotland are summarized. This period coincided with increased agricultural intensification, which included regular liming and fertilizer additions. During 2017, 37 of these sites were resampled and reanlaysed. While pH and extractable phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) increased over this period, there was no detectable change in the percentage loss on ignition. Composite soil samples were taken by auger from a depth of 0–15 cm and compared with the corresponding archived samples collected at the initiation of each experiment. Analysis of these resampled soils indicated no significant change in soil carbon (C), although soil pH, extractable magnesium (Mg) and K and Nitrogen (N) concentrations were significantly greater (p <.001) but extractable soil P concentration was significantly less (p =.015) compared with the original samples. Even though measuring C concentration alone is a poor indicator of overall changes in soil C stocks, it does provide a relative quick “early warning” of C losses that would justify a more comprehensive measure of stocks.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalSoil Use and Management
Early online date28 Dec 2019
Publication statusFirst published - 28 Dec 2019


Bibliographical note

© 2019 British Society of Soil Science


  • change
  • nutrients
  • pH
  • Scotland
  • soil carbon

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