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Compost can turn agricultural soils into a carbon sink, thus protecting against climate change
Date:2/24/2008

ng carbon in soils. Applications of organic matter (in the form of organic fertilizers) can lead either to a build-up of soil organic carbon over time, or a reduction in the rate at which organic matter is depleted from soils. In either case, the overall quantity of organic matter in soils will be higher than using no organic fertilizer.

What organic fertilizers can do is reverse the decline in soil organic matter that has occurred in relatively recent decades by contributing to the build-up in the stable organic fraction in soils, and having the effect, in any given year, of ensuring that more carbon is held within the soil, they explain.

But calculating the value of this technique to climate change policies is complicated. To refine previous calculations and to take account of the positive and negative dynamics of carbon storage in soil, Favoino and Hogg modelled the dynamics of compost application and build-up balancing this with mineralization and loss through tillage.

Their results suggest that soils where manure was added have soil organic carbon levels 1.34% higher than un-amended soils, and 1.13% higher than soils amended with chemical fertilizers, over a 50-year period. This is clearly significant given the evaluations reported above regarding carbon being lost from soils, and the increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, they say.


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Contact: Mithu Mukherjee
mithu.mukherjee@sagepub.co.uk
020-732-42223
SAGE Publications UK
Source:Eurekalert

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