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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SOIL ORGANIC MATTER AND NUTRIENT CYCLING TO SUSTAIN AGRICULTURE IN THE SOUTHEASTERN USA Title: Will we allow soil carbon to feed our needs?

Author
item FRANZLUEBBERS, ALAN

Submitted to: Scientific and Technical Review
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 11, 2010
Publication Date: December 28, 2010
Citation: Franzluebbers, A.J. 2010. Will we allow soil carbon to feed our needs? Scientific and Technical Review. 1:237-251.

Interpretive Summary: Humans need many things, but unbeknownst to many of us are the intricately critical influences that soil with high organic carbon has on our life support system. A scientist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Watkinsville Georgia outlined a perspective of how important soil is to ecosystem functioning and how we have conservation tools at our disposal to help preserve and sequester soil organic carbon to improve soil quality and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Soil is as vital to human survival as is air, water, and the sun; its protection and enrichment with organic carbon is needed for future sustainability of our planet. Loss of soil organic carbon has occurred in the past due to deforestation and cultivation of native ecosystems; great potential exists to replenish soil organic carbon, because of this historic loss. Soil organic carbon is a critical driver for achieving physical, chemical, and biological soil quality; as well, it controls landscape and global level processes of hydrologic function, nutrient cycling, and greenhouse gas emission and mitigation. Adoption of various conservation agricultural management approaches is a human choice to build a positive relationship with Nature; allowing us to sustain our food production systems and improve the environment into the future. Carbon trading may eventually become a marketing tool that helps broaden society’s appreciation for the inherent value of soil carbon as a fundamental basis for sustainability.

Technical Abstract: Humans need many things, but unbeknownst to many of us are the intricately critical influences that soil with high organic carbon has on our life support system. Curiously, the growing possibility of trading carbon in a global marketplace may actually help us better appreciate the enormous value of soil carbon on how our world functions and how we have the influence to preserve and enhance critical ecosystem functions or continue to degrade them with reckless abandonment. With the expected rise in human population and the need for even more food to be produced on already stressed landscapes, widespread adoption of conservation agricultural systems is necessary to build a more resilient global food production system that can also help to mitigate climate change and improve our relationship with Nature.

Last Modified: 8/19/2014
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