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1), differences were not significant with rubber monocultures.Nonetheless, oil palm plantation was the only agroecosystem that had a significant decrease in total belowground C storage down to 50 cm depth (sum of coarse roots, fine roots, fine roots necromass, and soil organic C) as compared to rainforest (Supplementary Table 1).Tropical regions are at the forefront of agricultural expansion and intensification to meet this demand due to rapid economic development, substantial potential to achieve high yield, and availability of unexploited land.
Rainforests in Sumatra converted to jungle rubber, rubber, and oil palm monocultures lost 116 Mg C ha, respectively.
Up to 21% of these carbon losses originated from belowground pools, where soil organic matter still decreases a decade after conversion.
Conversion of tropical rainforest to tree plantations greatly reduced C storage in the investigated ecosystems (Fig. As expected, the largest C losses among all C pools occurred in aboveground biomass (AGB), reaching 102–131 Mg C ha depending on the plantation type and corresponding to 73–88% of total C losses.
When all aboveground and belowground (down to 50 cm depth) C pools are considered, C losses together at the time of measurement reached 116 ± 16 Mg C ha did not significantly change for rainforest ( 2.7%), jungle rubber ( 5.5%), and rubber ( 0.3%) plantations as compared to previously published AGB stocks.
More specifically, our aim was to quantify the impacts of rainforest conversion to plantations of increasing agricultural intensity in terms of harvested biomass, fertilizers, and herbicide application, i.e., rubber agroforests (jungle rubber) with low yield and no fertilizer or herbicide applications, rubber monocultures, and oil palm monocultures both with high yield, fertilizer, and herbicides applications.
We synthesized data from aboveground and belowground C pools down to 50 cm depth, as well as C fluxes published by research groups working on the same plots in the Jambi province in Indonesia—as a typical example of land-use intensification in an emerging tropical country.
Oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) and rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) cultivation played a significant role in this expansion and reached 30 million ha worldwide in 2014, with 37% of the total area located in Indonesia.
The large past and forecasted expansion of South-East Asia’s oil palm and rubber plantations illustrates how emerging tropical countries rely on these perennial crops to increase their economic welfare.
Quantifying the gains and costs in C storage and productivity after rainforest conversion to agricultural land is fundamental to advise tropical countries in their development policies.
The belowground C dynamics under perennial crops remains largely unknown and contradicting results emerge from literature.