Submitted to: Eurosoil Congress
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/2/2012
Publication Date: 7/2/2012
Citation: Franzluebbers, A.J. 2012. Soil organic carbon sequestration in grazing systems of the southeastern USA [abstract]. Eurosoil Congress.
Technical Abstract: Improved pasture management systems are needed to restore soil quality, sequester soil organic C, and build the productive capacity of soils in grassland environments so that (1) precipitation can be effectively utilized by plants, (2) water runoff and contaminant transport can be minimized, (3) natural nutrient cycling processes can be restored to rejuvenate long-term fertility, and (4) productive capacity of soils can be fully realized to produce the food, feed, fiber, and fuel needs of the future. Grazing lands in the eastern USA are managed primarily for introduced plant species that have high forage production potential or that fit a niche with a farming system. Moderate grazing of pastures may be the most effective strategy for storing soil organic C, because return of dung to the soil surface has positive effects on soil surface properties, including soil microbial biomass and mineralizable C and N. Grazing land managed with moderate grazing pressure, i.e., utilizing forage to an optimum level without compromising regrowth potential, can (1) provide economic opportunities with low risk for landowners, (2) improve degraded land by building soil fertility, (3) improve water utilization and quality within the landscape, and (4) help mitigate the greenhouse effect by storing C in soil as organic matter. Literature in the southeastern USA was reviewed to illustrate the effect of improved pasture management on soil quality and soil organic C sequestration. Implications of soil organic C sequestration for provision of ecosystem services are discussed.