Submitted to: Society of Range Management
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 1, 2003
Publication Date: May 10, 2003
Citation: FOLLETT, R.F. THE POTENTIAL FOR SOIL CARBON SEQUESTRATION IN US GRAZING LANDS. SOCIETY OF RANGE MANAGEMENT. 2003. cd-rom. Technical Abstract: There are 212 million hectares (Mha) of non-federal grazing lands in the United States. This area is predominately rangeland with aridic to dry ustic (water limited) soil moisture regimes. However, there are also large areas of grasslands in the wet ustic and udic moisture regimes and substantial areas of improved pasture in many of the eastern states. Since the time that livestock were introduced some rangelands have lost much of their native carbon. However, the diversity of climates and soils of US grazing lands and the potential for their improvement all contribute to their great importance for soil carbon (C) sequestration. The goal is to strive to maintain biodiversity of both animals and plants, and increase C sequestration with the potential to enhance soil quality and productivity, restore degraded grazing land resources, and mitigate the greenhouse effect. Very small changes in the amount of SOC sequestered in grazing land soils become extremely important because of the vast land areas involved. Their potential to help mitigate global climate change resulting from increasing atmospheric levels of CO2 must be recognized. Estimates are that US grazing lands have the potential to sequester about 70 million metric tons (MMT) C yr-1. Most of the potential is not being managed for, nor is it widely recognized that sequestration of C is occurring. However, such an amount represent an offset of 4.6 percent of the total US CO2-C emissions of 1516 MMT yr-1.