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Sequestering carbon in soils of agro-ecosystems

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  • Lal, R.

Abstract

Soils of the world’s agroecosystems (croplands, grazing lands, rangelands) are depleted of their soil organic carbon (SOC) pool by 25–75% depending on climate, soil type, and historic management. The magnitude of loss may be 10 to 50tonsC/ha. Soils with severe depletion of their SOC pool have low agronomic yield and low use efficiency of added input. Conversion to a restorative land use and adoption of recommended management practices, can enhance the SOC pool, improve soil quality, increase agronomic productivity, advance global food security, enhance soil resilience to adapt to extreme climatic events, and mitigate climate change by off-setting fossil fuel emissions. The technical potential of carbon (C) sequestration in soils of the agroecosystems is 1.2–3.1billiontonsC/yr. Improvement in soil quality, by increase in the SOC pool of 1tonC/ha/yr in the root zone, can increase annual food production in developing countries by 24–32milliontons of food grains and 6–10milliontons of roots and tubers. The strategy is to create positive soil C and nutrient budgets through adoption of no-till farming with mulch, use of cover crops, integrated nutrient management including biofertilizers, water conservation, and harvesting, and improving soil structure and tilth.

Suggested Citation

  • Lal, R., 2011. "Sequestering carbon in soils of agro-ecosystems," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(S1), pages 33-39.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:36:y:2011:i:s1:p:s33-s39
    DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2010.12.001
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    2. repec:bla:afrdev:v:29:y:2017:i:s2:p:163-178 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Jayne, T.S. & Mason, Nicole M. & Burke, William J. & Ariga, Joshua, 2016. "Agricultural Input Subsidy Programs in Africa: An Assessment of Recent Evidence," Food Security International Development Working Papers 245892, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    4. Nath, Arun Jyoti & Lal, Rattan, 2017. "Managing tropical wetlands for advancing global rice production: Implications for land-use management," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 681-685.
    5. Jónsson, Jón Örvar G. & Davíðsdóttir, Brynhildur & Nikolaidis, Nikolaos P. & Giannakis, Georgios V., 2019. "Tools for Sustainable Soil Management: Soil Ecosystem Services, EROI and Economic Analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 109-119.
    6. Getnet, Kindie & Mekuria, Wolde & Langan, Simon & Rivington, Mike & Novo, Paula & Black, Helaina, 2017. "Ecosystem-based interventions and farm household welfare in degraded areas: Comparative evidence from Ethiopia," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 154(C), pages 53-62.
    7. Jianzheng Li & Zhongkui Luo & Yingchun Wang & Hu Li & Hongtao Xing & Ligang Wang & Enli Wang & Hui Xu & Chunyu Gao & Tianzhi Ren, 2019. "Optimizing Nitrogen and Residue Management to Reduce GHG Emissions while Maintaining Crop Yield: A Case Study in a Mono-Cropping System of Northeast China," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 11(18), pages 1-16, September.
    8. Timothy Capon & Michael Harris & Andrew Reeson, 2013. "The Design of Markets for Soil Carbon Sequestration," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 32(2), pages 161-173, June.
    9. Willenbockel, Dirk, 2014. "Reflections on the prospects for pro-poor low-carbon growth," MPRA Paper 69863, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Chennault, Carrie M. & Valek, Robert M. & Tyndall, John C. & Schulte, Lisa A., 2020. "PEWI: An interactive web-based ecosystem service model for a broad public audience," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 431(C).
    11. Jayne, Thomas S. & Mason, Nicole M. & Burke, William J. & Ariga, Joshua, 2018. "Review: Taking stock of Africa’s second-generation agricultural input subsidy programs," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 1-14.
    12. Lybbert, Travis J. & Sumner, Daniel A., 2012. "Agricultural technologies for climate change in developing countries: Policy options for innovation and technology diffusion," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 114-123.
    13. Wassenaar, T. & Doelsch, E. & Feder, F. & Guerrin, F. & Paillat, J.-M. & Thuriès, L. & Saint Macary, H., 2014. "Returning Organic Residues to Agricultural Land (RORAL) – Fuelling the Follow-the-Technology approach," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 60-69.

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