CO2 Sinks and Sources in Agricultural Soils

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CO2 Sinks and Sources in Agricultural Soils

The agricultural use of soils in many cases leads to the release of CO2 (i.e. soils are CO2 sources) and to a reduction of the carbon content of the soil. On the other hand, soils can also absorb new carbon (i.e. soils are CO2 sinks).

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Agricultural Management and Soil Carbon Dynamics

Agricultural activities affect soil carbon content, and hence the role of soils as CO2 sources or sinks. On the input side, this is primarily a result of crop rotation in the case of arable crops, and of land-use intensity in the case of grasslands.

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Organic Soils

Organic soils are important carbon stores. In bogs, they are formed by the incomplete (anaerobic) decomposition of plant matter in the water-saturated soil. When these soils are drained or damaged, they become a major and persistent CO2 source.

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Biochar

Biochar is produced from organic waste at temperatures of between 400 and 700 °C whilst excluding oxygen. Because of its high stability in the soil, it is regarded as a potential CO2 sink. What’s more, the use of biochar could influence the cycling of nutrients – particularly nitrogen – in the soil, as well as increase water-storage capacity.

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Swiss Soil Carbon Inventory

Switzerland reports annual CO2 emissions and storage of arable and grassland soils as part of the ‘Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry’ category of its national greenhouse gas inventory.

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Soil Carbon in Alpine Grasslands

In species-rich high-altitude grasslands, productivity and soil carbon stocks will change in response to the future climate.