Soil Carbon

New science programme for 2014 onwards is currently in development... 

The Centre's research programme on soil carbon is designed to move beyond quantifying how much soil carbon is stored in agricultural soils into the challenging area of understanding the processes driving soil carbon storage and, crucially, manipulating these processes so that agricultural soil carbon is conserved and, where possible, increased.

Goals & Objectives

Increasing the quantity of carbon stored in agricultural soils has the potential to offset emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. However, realising this potential is technically challenging, especially when soil carbon stocks are already high as they are in New Zealand. The NZAGRC's programme has three distinct components (1) assessing the potential to store carbon across the range of physical and climatic conditions found in New Zealand, (2) devising management practises that can increase the long term soil carbon store and (3) methods for verifying that soil carbon stocks have been changed.

  Objective Leader Timeframe


Limits of soil carbon storage in New Zealand soils

Dr Mike Beare

Apr 10 - Jun 12


Quantifying the carbon currently stored in New Zealand soils

Dr Allan Hewitt

Apr 10 - Jun 12


Process-based modelling of drivers of soil carbon change

Prof Tony Parsons

Apr 10 - Jun 14


Manipulation of carbon inputs, incorporation and retention to protect and enhance soil carbon

Dr David Whitehead

Apr 10 - Jun 14


Improved soil carbon measurements

Prof Frank Kelliher

Apr 10 - Jun 14

Principal Investigators

Professor Frank Kelliher, AgResearch
Dr David Whitehead, Landcare Research


Manipulating soil carbon Prospects for manipulating
soil carbon

Release Newsletter - February
Soil carbon levels Investigating the scope for
increasing soil carbon levels
in New Zealand
Release Newsletter - November 2011

Is biochar a possible solution for
the mitigation of
pastoral GHG

Release Newsletter - August 2011

Soil carbon in dairy systems

Can we increase soil carbon
in dairy systems?

Release Newsletter - December 2010


Agriculture & AgriFood, Canada
Colorado State University, USA
CSIRO Land & Water, Australia
Landcare Research
Lincoln University
Massey University
New South Wales DPI, Australia
Plant & Food Research
University of California, Davis, USA
Waikato University

Reducing New Zealand's agricultural emissions: Mapping soil organic carbon stocks

by NZAGRC Team

This publication provides an overview of how we can map the amount of carbon stored in New Zealand soils.

More information 

  1. pdf NZAGRC-PGgRc_Soil carbon mapping.pdf (3.02MB)

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