Quantifying carbon for agricultural soil management: from the current status toward a global soil information system uri icon

abstract

  • The importance of building/maintaining soil carbon, for soil health and CO2 mitigation, is of increasing interest to a wide audience, including policymakers, NGOs and land managers. Integral to any approaches to promote carbon sequestering practices in managed soils are reliable, accurate and cost-effective means to quantify soil C stock changes and forecast soil C responses to different management, climate and edaphic conditions. While technology to accurately measure soil C concentrations and stocks has been in use for decades, many challenges to routine, cost-effective soil C quantification remain, including large spatial variability, low signal-to-noise and often high cost and standardization issues for direct measurement with destructive sampling. Models, empirical and process-based, may provide a cost-effective and practical means for soil C quantification to support C sequestration policies. Examples are described of how soil science and soil C quantification methods are being used to support domestic climate change policies to promote soil C sequestration on agricultural lands (cropland and grazing land) at national and provincial levels in Australia and Canada. Finally, a quantification system is outlined - consisting of well-integrated data-model frameworks, supported by expanded measurement and monitoring networks, remote sensing and crowd-sourcing of management activity data - that could comprise the core of a new global soil information system.

publication date

  • 2019
  • 2019