Part II Workshop Working Group Papers

Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 70, Issue 1, pp 111-122

First online:

Agricultural sources and sinks of carbon

  • C. Vernon ColeAffiliated withUSDA, Agricultural Research Service Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University
  • , Klaus FlachAffiliated with
  • , Jeffrey LeeAffiliated withU.S. EPA Environmental Research Laboratory
  • , Dieter SauerbeckAffiliated with
  • , Bobby StewartAffiliated withUSDA, Agricultural Research Service

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Most existing agricultural lands have been in production for sufficiently long periods that C inputs and outputs are nearly balanced and they are neither a major source nor sink of atmospheric C. As population increases, food requirements and the need for more crop land increase accordingly. An annual conversion of previously uncultivated lands up to 1.5 × 107 hectares may be expected. It is this new agricultural land which suffers the greatest losses of C during and subsequent to its conversion. The primary focus for analysis of future C fluxes in agroecosystems needs to be on current changes in land use and management as well as on direct effects of CO2 and climate change. A valid assessment of C pools and fluxes in agroecosystems requires a global soils data base and comprehensive information on land use and management practices. A comprehensive effort to assemble and analyze this information is urgently needed.