Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/24/2005
Publication Date: 6/24/2005
Citation: Reicosky, D.C. 2005. Conservation agriculture: CO2 mitigation, environmental benefits and the Kyoto Protocol. In: Proceedings of the Fifth Conservation Agricultural Conference, June 23-24, 2005, Samara, Russia. p. 26-38.
Technical Abstract: Agricultural soil carbon (C) sequestration may be one of the most cost-effective ways to slow processes of global warming. Numerous environmental benefits may result from agricultural activities that sequester soil C and contribute to environmental security. As part of no-regret strategies, practices that sequester soil C help reduce soil erosion and improve water quality and are consistent with more sustainable and less chemically-dependent global agriculture. This work reviews research on tillage-induced C losses and environmental benefits of soil C in the US and its application for rain-limited areas in Russia. With conservation tillage, crop residues are left more naturally on the surface to protect the soil and control the conversion of plant C to SOM and humus. Intensive tillage releases soil C to the atmosphere as CO2 where it can combine with other gases to contribute to the greenhouse effect. Increasing soil C storage can increase infiltration, increase fertility and nutrient cycling, decrease wind and water erosion, minimize compaction, enhance water quality, decrease C emissions, impede pesticide movement and generally enhance environmental quality. Farmers need to be compensated for the societal benefits of C sequestration. The mechanisms that develop will allow for C trading through the Kyoto Protocol and maintainence of property rights. As part of the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol strengthens the international response to climate change. Complete implementation of the Kyoto Protocol may require policy changes to increase the acceptance of and provide financial incentives for C sequestration and the associated benefits. The sum of each individual C benefit adds to a total package with major significance on a global scale. Incorporating C storage in conservation planning demonstrates concern for our global resources and presents a positive role for soil C policies that will have a major impact on our future quality of life.