Soil carbon research programme

Understanding how soil carbon is changing on New Zealand farms and how it can be maintained or increased.

The NZAGRC’s soil carbon programme aims to quantify and then monitor changes in soil carbon stocks over time under different agricultural land uses.

Additionally, the NZAGRC is also examining, alongside the nitrous oxide research programme, how different feed production practices affect soil carbon stocks.


Soil knife

A systematic, long-term and nationwide study will determine, for the first time, whether New Zealand agricultural soils are gaining or losing carbon.

More about monitoring


Not all soils have the potential to store more carbon. Identifying soils with the greatest potential will allow efficient targeting of management practices that enhance soil carbon.

Field measurement

Modelling changes in the rates of soil carbon under climate change

A mix of empirical and modelling approaches is being used to map how climate change might influence future soil carbon storage in New Zealand’s pastoral soils.

More about modelling

Management practices

grass thumbnail

Work is underway that couples paddock-scale measurements and modelling of different management practices (involving plantain and maize) aiming to reduce nitrous oxide emissions and increase soil carbon.

More about management practices

The science of soil carbon

2.3e Soil cores Credit Dave Allen Photography

What is soil carbon, why does it matter, what influences soil carbon stocks in agricultural soils, what do we currently know about soil carbon in New Zealand, and how is it measured?

More about soil carbon science

Explore publications

Use the filters and free-text search facility in our Publications archive to view peer-reviewed papers, reports, factsheets and other material that relate to our soil carbon research.