Soil Carbon

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.

Principal Investigators

Dr David Whitehead, Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research (2010-present)
Professor Frank Kelliher, AgResearch (2010-2017)

Research Stories

Soil carbon: New tool to measure soil carbon

A study has been completed into the potential of using mid-infrared spectroscopy/partial least squares regression (MIR/PLSR) analyses to provide accurate estimates of the content and composition of soil carbon. The MIR/PLSR measurements provided reliable estimates about the impact of agricultural management on carbon stocks to a depth of 0.25m, as well as an indication of the vulnerability of soil carbon to change.

An exceprt from the NZAGRC Highlights 2017 to be released in full shortly. Read more

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