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Title: Grassland Management and Conversion into Grassland: Effects on Soil Carbon

Abstract

Grasslands are heavily relied upon for food and forage production. A key component for sustaining production in grassland ecosystems is the maintenance of soil organic matter (SOM), which can be strongly influenced by management. Many management techniques intended to increase forage production may potentially increase SOM, thus sequestering atmospheric carbon (C). Further, conversion from either cultivation or native vegetation into grassland could also sequester atmospheric carbon. We reviewed studies examining the influence of improved grassland management practices and conversion into grasslands on soil C worldwide to assess the potential for C sequestration. Results from 115 studies containing over 300 data points were analyzed. Management improvements included fertilization (39%), improved grazing management (24%), conversion from cultivation (15%) and native vegetation (15%), sowing of legumes (4%) and grasses (2%), earthworm introduction (1%), and irrigation (1%). Soil C content and concentration increased with improved management in 74% of the studies, and mean soil C increased with all types of improvement. Carbon sequestration rates were highest during the first 40 y after treatments began and tended to be greatest in the top 10 cm of soil. Impacts were greater in woodland and grassland biomes than in forest, desert, rain forest, or shrubland biomes. Conversionmore » from cultivation, the introduction of earthworms, and irrigation resulted in the largest increases. Rates of C sequestration by type of improvement ranged from 0.11 to 3.04 Mg C · ha–1 y–1, with a mean of 0.54 Mg C · ha –1 · y–1, and were highly influenced by biome type and climate. We conclude that grasslands can act as a significant carbon sink with the implementation of improved management.« less

Authors:
; ;
  1. Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorada State University, Fort Collins, CO (USA)
Publication Date:
Product Type:
Dataset
Research Org.:
Environmental System Science Data Infrastructure for a Virtual Ecosystem (ESS-DIVE) (United States); Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USEPA; USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER)
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES
OSTI Identifier:
1389522
DOI:
https://doi.org/10.3334/CDIAC/TCM.005

Citation Formats

Conant, Richard T., Paustian, Keith, and Elliott, Edward T. Grassland Management and Conversion into Grassland: Effects on Soil Carbon. United States: N. p., 2003. Web. doi:10.3334/CDIAC/TCM.005.
Conant, Richard T., Paustian, Keith, & Elliott, Edward T. Grassland Management and Conversion into Grassland: Effects on Soil Carbon. United States. doi:https://doi.org/10.3334/CDIAC/TCM.005
Conant, Richard T., Paustian, Keith, and Elliott, Edward T. 2003. "Grassland Management and Conversion into Grassland: Effects on Soil Carbon". United States. doi:https://doi.org/10.3334/CDIAC/TCM.005. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1389522. Pub date:Wed Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 2003
@article{osti_1389522,
title = {Grassland Management and Conversion into Grassland: Effects on Soil Carbon},
author = {Conant, Richard T. and Paustian, Keith and Elliott, Edward T.},
abstractNote = {Grasslands are heavily relied upon for food and forage production. A key component for sustaining production in grassland ecosystems is the maintenance of soil organic matter (SOM), which can be strongly influenced by management. Many management techniques intended to increase forage production may potentially increase SOM, thus sequestering atmospheric carbon (C). Further, conversion from either cultivation or native vegetation into grassland could also sequester atmospheric carbon. We reviewed studies examining the influence of improved grassland management practices and conversion into grasslands on soil C worldwide to assess the potential for C sequestration. Results from 115 studies containing over 300 data points were analyzed. Management improvements included fertilization (39%), improved grazing management (24%), conversion from cultivation (15%) and native vegetation (15%), sowing of legumes (4%) and grasses (2%), earthworm introduction (1%), and irrigation (1%). Soil C content and concentration increased with improved management in 74% of the studies, and mean soil C increased with all types of improvement. Carbon sequestration rates were highest during the first 40 y after treatments began and tended to be greatest in the top 10 cm of soil. Impacts were greater in woodland and grassland biomes than in forest, desert, rain forest, or shrubland biomes. Conversion from cultivation, the introduction of earthworms, and irrigation resulted in the largest increases. Rates of C sequestration by type of improvement ranged from 0.11 to 3.04 Mg C · ha–1 y–1, with a mean of 0.54 Mg C · ha –1 · y–1, and were highly influenced by biome type and climate. We conclude that grasslands can act as a significant carbon sink with the implementation of improved management.},
doi = {10.3334/CDIAC/TCM.005},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2003},
month = {1}
}

Works referencing / citing this record:

Impacts of Rotational Grazing on Soil Carbon in Native Grass-Based Pastures in Southern Australia
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Whole Farm Net Greenhouse Gas Abatement from Establishing Kikuyu-Based Perennial Pastures in South-Western Australia
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Improved grazing management may increase soil carbon sequestration in temperate steppe
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Legumes for mitigation of climate change and the provision of feedstock for biofuels and biorefineries. A review
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Effect of land use history and site factors on spatial variation of soil organic carbon across a physiographic region
journal, September 2009


Grassland Management and Conversion into Grassland: Effects on soil Carbon
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Carbon accumulation in arid croplands of northwest China: pedogenic carbonate exceeding organic carbon
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The potential for carbon sequestration in Australian agricultural soils is technically and economically limited
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The impact of human-environment interactions on the stability of forest-grassland mosaic ecosystems
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Soil CO 2 –C Emissions and Correlations with Soil Properties in Degraded and Managed Pastures in Southern Brazil
journal, May 2016

  • Figueiredo, Eduardo Barretto de; Panosso, Alan Rodrigo; Bordonal, Ricardo de Oliveira
  • Land Degradation & Development, Vol. 28, Issue 4
  • https://doi.org/10.1002/ldr.2524

Soil CO 2 –C Emissions and Correlations with Soil Properties in Degraded and Managed Pastures in Southern Brazil
journal, May 2016

  • Figueiredo, Eduardo Barretto de; Panosso, Alan Rodrigo; Bordonal, Ricardo de Oliveira
  • Land Degradation & Development, Vol. 28, Issue 4
  • https://doi.org/10.1002/ldr.2524

Effects of grazing intensity on soil labile organic carbon fractions in a desert steppe area in Inner Mongolia
journal, January 2013


Reduced grazing pressure delivers production and environmental benefits for the typical steppe of north China
journal, November 2015


Regional Contingencies in the Relationship between Aboveground Biomass and Litter in the World’s Grasslands
journal, February 2013