, Volume 70, Issue 1-4, pp 111-122

Agricultural sources and sinks of carbon

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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.