Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 2, 2009
Publication Date: March 2, 2009
Citation: Franzluebbers, A.J. 2009. Conservation agricultural management to sequester soil organic carbon [abstract]. Soil Carbon Workshop, March 2, 2009, Washington, DC. CDROM. Technical Abstract: Storing carbon (C) in soil as organic matter is not only a viable strategy to sequester CO2 from the atmosphere, but is vital for improving the quality, fertility, and functioning of soil. This presentation describes relevant management approaches to avoid land degradation and foster soil organic C sequestration. Conservation management practices can be employed to sequester soil organic C, counter land degradation, and contribute to economic livelihoods on farms. Minimal disturbance of the soil surface with conservation tillage is critical to avoid soil organic C loss from erosion and microbial decomposition. Animal manures contain 40-60% C, and therefore, application to land promotes soil organic C sequestration and provides readily-available, recycled nutrients to crops. Green manures can be used to build soil fertility, often with leguminous plant species having symbiotic root associations with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Grasslands have great potential to sequester soil organic C when managed properly, but can also be degraded due to overgrazing, careless management, and drought leading to accelerated soil erosion and undesirable species composition. Opportunities exist to capture and retain greater quantity of C from crop and grazing systems when the two systems are integrated. Fertilization is needed to achieve production goals, but when applied excessively it can lead to environmental pollution, especially when considering the energy and C cost of manufacture and transport. Agricultural conservation management strategies to sequester CO2 from the atmosphere into soil organic matter will also likely restore degraded land and/or avoid further land degradation.