Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/30/2008
Publication Date: 3/31/2009
Citation: Reicosky, D.C. 2009. Gestion Responsable del Carbono en el Suelo. Phytoma Espana 207:57-59. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: The world's agronomists must broaden their perspective and shift conservation concepts and programs to get away from managing for only yield and erosion control and move to managing soil carbon (C) for crop production sustainability and maintaining environmental quality. This work reviews research on new technology, tillage-induced C losses and environmental benefits of soil C to highlight the role of the agronomist and the farmer. The agronomist plays a major role in optimizing the canopy conditions to maximize solar energy and C capture for photosynthesis. The agronomist also plays a major role in managing nutrient cycling for optimum crop production and minimum environmental impact. With conservation tillage, crop residues are left more naturally on the surface to protect the soil and control the conversion of plant C to soil organic matter and humus. Intensive tillage releases soil C to the atmosphere as CO2 where it combines with other gases to contribute to the greenhouse effect. The combination of reducing the volume of soil disturbed by intensive tillage and using direct seeding techniques should enhance soil and air quality by increasing soil C content. Management emphasis on diverse rotations must be combined with maximum biomass and yield production and the use of cover crops to maximize the C input into the soil system. The smaller CO2 loss following conservation tillage tools is significant and suggests progress in developing conservation tillage tools that can enhance soil C management. Conservation tillage reduces the extent, frequency and magnitude of mechanical disturbance caused by the moldboard plow and reduces the air-filled macropores and slows the rate of C oxidation. Any effort to decrease tillage intensity and maximize residue return should result in C sequestration for enhanced environmental quality. The soil is the fundamental foundation of our economy and our existence. While soil erosion continues to be a major problem, we must expand our thinking to address related soil quality issues, which translates to soil C. Carbon management to reduce our C footprint is required to address a complex list of issues including soil, water, air quality, biofuels, and climate change. Thus to maintain sustainability of the soil resource, we must think about soil C management and make efforts to maximize soil C input and minimize C loss. Today, we must place emphasis on conservation of all natural resources and additional emphasis on C as a key component in maintaining ecosystem stability.