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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: Soils and climate change (Introduction)

Authors
item Lal, Rattan -
item Follett, Ronald

Submitted to: Soil Science Society of America Special Publication Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: July 17, 2007
Publication Date: March 1, 2009
Citation: Lal, R., Follett, R.F. 2009. Soils and climate change (Introduction). Soil Science Society of America Special Publication #57 pp xxi-xxviii. In R. Lal and R.F. Follett (eds). 2nd Edition, 410p.

Interpretive Summary: Land use conversion from natural to agricultural ecosystems and soil cultivation creates a soil C deficit with the attendant emission of CO2 into the atmosphere. The magnitude of deficit, ranging from 30 to 75%, depends on soil, climate, terrain, drainage, land use, and soil and crop management practices. Adoption of recuperative land use and recommended management practices can restore the depleted soil carbon pool. The process of restoration of the C pool, called soil carbon sequestration, has positive impacts on environmental services including improvement in soil quality, increase in agronomic or biomass productivity, purification of water, increase in use efficiency of input (e.g., fertilizer, irrigation, energy), and increase in biodiversity.

Technical Abstract: Land use conversion from natural to agricultural ecosystems and soil cultivation creates a soil C deficit with the attendant emission of CO2 into the atmosphere. The magnitude of deficit, ranging from 30 to 75%, depends on soil, climate, terrain, drainage, land use, and soil and crop management practices. Adoption of recuperative land use and recommended management practices can restore the depleted soil carbon pool. The process of restoration of the C pool, called soil carbon sequestration, has positive impacts on environmental services including improvement in soil quality, increase in agronomic or biomass productivity, purification of water, increase in use efficiency of input (e.g., fertilizer, irrigation, energy), and increase in biodiversity. In addition, soil carbon sequestration, both through increase in organic and inorganic components, offsets fossil fuel emissions and mitigates climate change due to atmospheric enrichment of CO2. Restoration of eroded or otherwise degraded soils, conversion of plow tillage to no-till farming with crop residue mulch and cover cropping, integrated nutrient management with manuring, and use of complex cropping or farming systems are some of the practices that enhance soil carbon sequestration. Improving pastures and controlled grazing leads to increase in the soil carbon pool in grazing lands. Choices of appropriate species, stand management, along with judicious practices of site preparation, enhance the carbon pool in forest soils. Adoption of recommended management practices can be facilitated through creation of another income stream by trading carbon credits. [GRACENet publication].

Last Modified: 4/23/2014
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