State of Science webinar: Pastoral systems, soil carbon and nitrous oxide emissions

Published: June 7, 2022

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Details of the NZAGRC State of Science webinar that took place on Friday 27 May 2022. 

Soil carbon and nitrous oxide webinar Q&A [PDF, 274 KB]

Soil organic carbon is originally derived from carbon dioxide inputs through photosynthesis while plant respiration continuously returns captured carbon to the atmosphere. Small changes in the balance of photosynthesis and respiration lead to either gains or losses of soil carbon. Globally, about 20% of the extra carbon dioxide accumulated in the atmosphere has come from the management of agricultural lands. Finding ways to reduce losses or create gains in soil carbon is critical for managing the greenhouse gas burden on the planet.

This webinar with Professor Louis Schipper (University of Waikato) is focused on the role that managing pasture swards and forage crops have on soil carbon storage in New Zealand’s pastoral systems. Louis describes changes in soil carbon storage during pasture establishment (renewal phase and sward development), management and harvest of supplemental feed (maize, turnips), and the untapped potential for soil carbon recovery once back under pasture.

He also covers the greenhouse gas trade-offs associated with land management practices, in particular practices targeting reductions in nitrous oxide emissions and the associated impact on soil carbon. Changes in soil carbon and nitrous oxide emissions are intertwined and if measurements are made independent of one another or at small scales unintended consequences may be missed.

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Published: June 7, 2022