story to find out more.
Brazilian soil scientist Helvecio De-Polli
collects a gas sample for measurement of greenhouse gas emissions from a
long-term soil-management plot at the ARS Beltsville (Md.) Agricultural
Research Center. Click the image for more information about it.
Capturing Carbon a Key Benefit of No-Till Soil
April 13, 2005
No-till soil management can play an
important role in keeping carbon in the soil, rather than allowing it to escape
into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, according to a cooperative study by
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and
Brazilian scientists at Beltsville, Md.
Capturing carbon and other substances in the soil keeps them from
contributing to "global warming" as greenhouse gases.
Brazilian scientist Helvecio De-Polli worked on the study from 2002-2004
with ARS soil scientist
McCarty and others at ARS'
Quality Laboratory (EQL) in Beltsville. De-Polli works for the Brazilian
Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply's Empresa Brasileira de
Pesquisa Agropecuaria (Embrapa).
The soil carbon study was done at a field site where researchers had
conducted a 10-year tillage experiment comparing no-till farming with
cultivation by plowing. Soil microbial biomass and carbon stocks stored in the
soil were measured at the end of the 10-year period. Also, emissions of
methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide from the soil were monitored for an
entire year. These three are the most important "greenhouse gases"
exchanged between agricultural systems and the atmosphere.
Microbes are responsible for processes in the soil that produce these gases.
A complete understanding of greenhouse gas emissions is important to
development of methods to capture soil carbon, according to De-Polli.
His work shows that no-till farming can play a positive role in mitigating
greenhouse gases by capturing carbon that's stored in the soil in plant tissues
which remain in the field after the crop is harvested.
more about this research in the April issue of Agricultural Research
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.