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Researchers question published no-till soil organic carbon sequestration rates
Date:4/18/2014

>During the analysis of the work, Olson said that it became apparent that there were a number of reasons for the conflicting findings, including the definition of soil organic carbon sequestration used by different researchers.

The team proposed the definition of soil sequestration be: the process of transferring CO2 from the atmosphere into the soil of a land unit through unit plants, plant residues, and other organic solids, which are stored or retained in the unit as part of the soil organic matter (humus). To claim soil organic carbon sequestration, management practices must lead to an increase in the net soil organic carbon from a previous pre-treatment baseline measurement and result in a net reduction in the CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Carbon not directly originated from the atmosphere (from outside the land unit) cannot be counted as sequestered soil organic carbon. These external inputs may include organic fertilizers, manure, plant residues, topsoil, or natural input processes such as erosion of a sloping soil and sediment-rich carbon deposition on a soil located on a lower landscape position or in a waterway. The land unit could be a plot, plot area, parcel, tract, field, farm, landscape position, landscape, wetland, forest, or prairie with defined and identified boundaries.

The team identified a number of other methodological factors that could lead to errors in reported soil organic carbon sequestration rates, including: using inappropriate experimental methods; not collecting and testing the deeper surface layers; lack of soil bulk density measurements; not accounting for carbon in amendments being loaded on the plots from external sources; use of different soil organic carbon laboratory methods over the long-term study; effects of soil erosion; transport and deposition on the experimental tillage plots; lack of sloping and eroding sites included in summary studies; natural variability that was not captured by t
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Contact: Debra Levey Larson
dlarson@illinois.edu
217-244-2880
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Source:Eurekalert  

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