Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Quality
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/23/2005
Publication Date: 6/15/2006
Citation: Causarano, H.J., Franzluebbers, A.J., Reeves, D.W., Shaw, J.N. 2006. Soil organic carbon sequestration in cotton production systems of the southeastern USA: a review. Journal of Environmental Quality. 35:1374-1383. Interpretive Summary: Past agricultural management practices have contributed to the loss of soil organic carbon and emission of greenhouse gases. Conservation-oriented agricultural management systems can be, and have been, developed to sequester soil organic carbon, improve soil quality, and increase crop productivity. Research collaboration between Auburn University and the USDA-ARS in Watkinsville GA prepared a document that (1) reviews available literature related to soil organic carbon sequestration in cotton production systems, (2) recommends best management practices to sequester soil organic carbon, and (3) outlines political scenarios and future probabilities for cotton producers to benefit from soil organic carbon sequestration. Conservation tillage, cropping system intensification, sod-based crop rotations, and judicious use of fertilizers and herbicides were some of the agricultural practices shown to be successful in increasing soil organic carbon. Participation in the Conservation Security Program could lead to government payments of up to $8/acre, while open-market trading of carbon credits would appear to yield less than $1/acre, although prices would likely increase should a policy to limit greenhouse gas emissions be mandated.
Technical Abstract: Past agricultural management practices have contributed to the loss of soil organic C (SOC) and emission of greenhouse gases (e.g., carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide). Our objectives were to (1) review literature related to SOC sequestration in cotton production systems, (2) recommend best management practices to sequester SOC, and (3) outline current political scenario and future probabilities for cotton producers to benefit from SOC sequestration. More diverse rotations of cotton with high-residue-producing crops such as corn and small grains would sequester greater quantities of SOC than continuous cotton. No-tillage cropping with a cover crop sequestered 0.67 Mg C/ha/yr, while that of no-tillage cropping without a cover crop sequestered 0.34 Mg C/ha/yr. Current government incentive programs recommend agricultural practices that would contribute to SOC sequestration. Participation in the Conservation Security Program could lead to government payments of up to $20/ha. Current open-market trading of C credits would appear to yield less than $3/ha, although prices would greatly increase should a government policy to limit greenhouse gas emissions be mandated.