Increasing the quantity of carbon stored in agricultural soils has the potential to offset emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, while soil carbon losses would further add to those emissions.
However, realising this mitigation potential is technically challenging when soil carbon stocks are already high (as they are in New Zealand), potential changes in soil carbon are small and spatial variability is high.
The current NZAGRC programme has three distinct components:
(1) testing specific management practices that may increase the long term soil carbon store in field situations;
(2) developing and using models to predict how a range of management practices may influence long and short tem soil carbon storage; and
(3) identifying those factors that influence the stability of current or newly added soil carbon.
We have also supported international work to map on farm soil carbon and will participate in the international research programme CIRCASA.
Dr David Whitehead, Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research (2010-present)
Professor Frank Kelliher, AgResearch (2010-2017)
Professor Louis Schipper talks about soil carbon
Louis Schipper talks to Bryan Crump on RNZ Nights about soil carbon. He talks about soil organic matter, soil density, nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, sulphur), land use and the ways we can store more carbon in soil to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmostphere without reducing food production.
Louis also talks about the 4 pour mille initiative and its challenge to increase carbon content of soils by 0.4% per year to offset fossil fuel emissions.
Listen (external link)
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