Soil management concepts and carbon sequestration in cropland soils

Soil management concepts and carbon sequestration in cropland soils,10.1016/S0167-1987(01)00180-5,Soil & Tillage Research,R. F Follett

Soil management concepts and carbon sequestration in cropland soils   (Citations: 161)
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One of the most important terrestrial pools for carbon (C) storage and exchange with atmospheric CO2 is soil organic carbon (SOC). Following the advent of large-scale cultivation, this long-term balance was disrupted and increased amounts of SOC were exposed to oxidation and loss as atmospheric CO2. The result was a dramatic decrease in SOC. If amounts of C entering the soil exceed that lost to the atmosphere by oxidation, SOC increases. Such an increase can result from practices that include improved: (1) tillage management and cropping systems, (2) management to increase amount of land cover, and (3) efficient use of production inputs, e.g. nutrients and water. Among the most important contributors is conservation tillage (i.e., no-till, ridge-till, and mulch-tillage) whereby higher levels of residue cover are maintained than for conventional-tillage. Gains in amount of land area under conservation tillage between 1989 and 1998 are encouraging because of their contributions to soil and water conservation and for their potential to sequester SOC. Other important contributors are crop residue and biomass management and fallow reduction. Collectively, tillage management and cropping systems in the US are estimated to have the potential to sequester 30–105 million metric tons of carbon (MMTC) yr−1. Two important examples of management strategies whereby land cover is increased include crop rotations with winter cover crops and the conservation reserve program (CRP). Such practices enhance SOC sequestration by increasing the amount and time during which the land is covered by growing plants. Crop rotations, winter cover crops, and the CRP combined have the potential to sequester 14–29MMTCyr−1. Biomass production is increased by efficient use of production inputs. Optimum fertility levels and water availability in soils can directly affect quantity of crop residues produced for return to the soil and for SOC sequestration. Nutrient inputs and supplemental irrigation are estimated to have the potential to sequester 11–30MMTCyr−1. In the future, it is important to acquire an improved understanding of SOC sequestration processes, the ability to make quantitative estimates of rates of SOC sequestration, and technology to enhance these rates in an energy- and input-efficient manner. Adoption of improved tillage practices and cropping systems, increased land cover, and efficient use of nutrient and water inputs are examples where such information is necessary.
Journal: Soil & Tillage Research - SOIL TILL RES , vol. 61, no. 1, pp. 77-92, 2001
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