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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Soil Management and Sugarbeet Research » Research » Research Project #431324

Research Project: Quantifying the Mechanisms of Soil C Sequestration and Loss in Agroecosystems

Location: Soil Management and Sugarbeet Research

Project Number: 3012-11120-001-01-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2016
End Date: Aug 31, 2021

To evaluate the mechanisms of soil C storage and loss to develop management practices that minimize environmental impact and increase resilience to climate variability. Increasing soil C sequestration through land-use change and agricultural management practices (tillage, N fertilizer, organic C additions including biochar) is an important climate change mitigation strategy. However, the relative importance of C inputs (aboveground vs belowground), residue chemistry, and microbial processing in stabilizing C is less clear. Understanding of the mechanisms of C storage and loss will be important in developing management practices that sustain soils during climate change and subsequent evaluation of soil health.

Preliminary research using a variety of residue substrates and soils suggests that substrate chemistry interacts with nutrient availability and microbial processing to determine soil C sequestration of added residue-C. A more detailed quantification of the chemical, physical and biological C pools using stable and enriched isotope experiments and soil fractionation techniques. These analyses will include labile and stable soil organic C pools, chemistry, isotope composition and compound-specific isotope ratio mass spectrometry.