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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVING SOIL AND NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS FOR SUSTAINED PRODUCTIVITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY

Location: Soil Plant Nutrient Research (SPNR)

Title: Soil Carbon Sequestration in Grazing Lands: Societal Benefits and Policay Implications

Authors
item FOLLETT, RONALD
item Reed, Debbie - DRD ASSOC., ARLINGTON, VA

Submitted to: Rangeland Ecology and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 27, 2009
Publication Date: January 2, 2010
Citation: Follett, R.F., Reed, D. 2010. Soil Carbon Sequestration in Grazing Lands: Societal Benefits and Policay Implications. Rangeland Ecology and Management. 63:4-15.

Interpretive Summary: The importance of ‘grazinglands’ are examined in relation to the sequestration of soil organic carbon. Global estimates are that grazinglands occupy~ 3.6 billion ha and account for about one-fourth of potential C sequestration in world soils. Many environmental and societal benefits are provided by grazinglands. Benefits include the maintenance and well being of immediate and surrounding soil and water resources, air quality, human and wildlife habitat; and esthetics. Grazinglands contribute to the financial well-being of those living on the land and to the trade and exchange of goods and services associated with products derived from grazinglands. Rates of soil organic carbon (SOC) sequestration vary with climate, soil, and management and examples and associated conditions have been selected from the US literature to illustrate possible SOC sequestration that might be achieved even outside of the US. Policy constraints, public efforts, other public activities, and research recent policy considerations occurring in the US are used to illustrate possible alternative policy approaches. The discussion of US policy issues related to SOC sequestration and global change is a reflection of the importance attached to these topics and of pending legislative initiatives in the US. Addressing primarily US policy issues in this paper is not meant to lessen the importance of policy issues around the world, but does allow an in-depth analyses, which may then reflect past and possibly future discussions and issues other countries have had or must address. The overview of existing policy constructs for agriculture discussed here include those that may be imposed by the 2008 Farm Bill. This overview also addresses possible future public policies, USDA program efforts, soil carbon credits in greenhouse gas markets, and provides future research policy recommendations.

Technical Abstract: Here we examine the importance of ‘grazinglands’ in relation to the sequestration of soil organic carbon. Global estimates are that grazinglands occupy~ 3.6 billion ha and account for about one-fourth of potential C sequestration in world soils. Many environmental and societal benefits are provided by grazinglands in every country where they exist. Benefits include the maintenance and well being of immediate and surrounding soil and water resources, air quality, human and wildlife habitat; and esthetics. Grazinglands contribute to the financial well-being of those living on the land and to the trade and exchange of goods and services associated with products derived from grazinglands at local, regional, or national levels for countries around the world. Rates of soil organic carbon (SOC) sequestration vary with climate, soil, and management and examples and associated conditions have been selected from the US literature to illustrate possible SOC sequestration that might be achieved even outside of the US. Policy constraints, public efforts, other public activities, and research recent policy considerations occurring in the US are used to illustrate possible alternative policy approaches. The discussion of US policy issues related to SOC sequestration and global change is a reflection of the importance attached to these topics and of pending legislative initiatives in the US. Addressing primarily US policy issues in this paper is not meant to lessen the importance of policy issues around the world, but does allow an in-depth analyses, which may then reflect past and possibly future discussions and issues other countries have had or must address. The overview of existing policy constructs for agriculture discussed here include those that may be imposed by the 2008 Farm Bill. This overview also addresses possible future public policies, USDA program efforts, soil carbon credits in greenhouse gas markets, and provides future research policy recommendations. [GRACEnet publication]

Last Modified: 9/29/2014
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