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Kevin Coleman and David Jenkinson, Rothamsted Research, UK




RothC is a model for the turnover of organic carbon in non-waterlogged topsoil that allows for the effects of soil type, temperature, soil moisture and plant cover on the turnover process. It uses a monthly time step to calculate total organic carbon (t ha-1), microbial biomass carbon (t ha-1) and Δ14C (from which the equivalent radiocarbon age of the soil can be calculated) on a years to centuries timescale. It requires few inputs and those it needs are easily obtainable.

RothC was originally developed and parameterized to model the turnover of organic C in arable topsoil from the Rothamsted long-term field experiments - hence the name. Later, it was extended to model turnover in grassland and in woodland and to operate in different soils and under different climates. It has now been widely tested and used at the plot, field, regional and global scales using data from many long-term experiments, different regions, and counties throughout the world.

RothC is designed to run in two modes: ‘forward’ in which known inputs are used to calculate changes in soil organic matter and ‘inverse’, when inputs are calculated from known changes in soil organic matter.

Recent developments include a version for volcanic soils, dry soils and a carbon in the subsoil version (RothPC)


Scientific articles

Coleman, K., Jenkinson, D.S., 1996. RothC-26.3 - A model for the turnover of carbon in soil. In: Powlson, D.S., Smith, P., Smith, J.U. (Eds.), Evaluation of Soil Organic Matter Models Using Existing Long-Term Datasets. Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, pp. 237-246.

Coleman, K., Jenkinson, D.S., Crocker, G.J., Grace, P.R., Klir, J., Korschens, M., Poulton, P.R., Richter, D.D., 1997. Simulating trends in soil organic carbon in long-term experiments using RothC-26.3. Geoderma 81, 29-44.

Cerri, C.E.P., Coleman, K., Jenkinson, D.S., Bernoux, M., Victoria, R., Cerri, C.C., 2003. Modeling soil carbon from forest and pasture ecosystems of Amazon, Brazil. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 67, 1879-1887.

Shirato, Y., Hakamata, T., Taniyama, I., 2004. Modified Rothamsted carbon model for andosols and its validation: Changing humus decomposition rate constant with pyrophosphate-extractable Al. Soil Sci. Plant Nutr. 50, 149-158.

Falloon, P., Smith, P., Bradley, R.I., Milne, R., Tomlinson, R., Viner, D., Livermore, M., Brown, T., 2006. RothCUK - a dynamic modelling system for estimating changes in soil C from mineral soils at 1-km resolution in the UK. Soil Use Manage. 22, 274-288.

Cerri, C.E.P., Easter, M., Paustian, K., Killian, K., Coleman, K., Bernoux, M., Falloon, P., Powlson, D.S., Batjes, N., Milne, E., Cerri, C.C., 2007. Simulating SOC changes in 11 land use change chronosequences from the Brazilian Amazon with RothC and Century models. Agric., Ecosyst. Environ. 122, 46-57.

Cerri, C.E.P., Easter, M., Paustian, K., Killian, K., Coleman, K., Bernoux, M., Falloon, P., Powlson, D.S., Batjes, N.H., Milne, E., Cerri, C.C., 2007. Predicted soil organic carbon stocks and changes in the Brazilian Amazon between 2000 and 2030. Agric., Ecosyst. Environ. 122, 58-72.

Jenkinson, D.S., Coleman, K., 2008. The turnover of organic carbon in subsoils. Part 2. Modelling carbon turnover. Eur. J. Soil Sci. 59, 400-413.

Mondini, C., Coleman, K., Whitmore, A.P., 2012. Spatially explicit modelling of changes in soil organic C in agricultural soils in Italy, 2001–2100: Potential for compost amendment. Agric., Ecosyst. Environ. 153, 24-32.

Farina, R., Coleman, K., Whitmore, A.P., 2013. Modification of the RothC model for simulations of soil organic C dynamics in dryland regions. Geoderma 200/201, 18-30.


Technical information

Operating system(s): Windows XP and newer

Licence: Free

Output(s): Soil carbon in each pool and 14C at each timestep. Also more detailed output that includes model inputs, rate constants and calculated rate modifying factors is available.    

Export format(s): ASCII output files

Contact : website above or for more information

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