Environmental Management

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 467–473 | Cite as

Grassland Management Activity Data: Current Sources and Future Needs

  • Richard T. ConantEmail author
  • Keith Paustian


Estimates of potential and actual C sequestration require areal information about various types of management activities. Forest surveys, land use data, and agricultural statistics contribute information enabling calculation of the impacts of current and historical land management on C sequestration in biomass (in forests) or in soil (in agricultural systems). Unfortunately little information exists on the distribution of various management activities that can impact soil C content in grassland systems. Limited information of this type restricts our ability to carry out bottom-up estimates of the current C balance of grasslands or to assess the potential for grasslands to act as C sinks with changes in management. Here we review currently available information about grassland management, how that information could be related to information about the impacts of management on soil C stocks, information that may be available in the future, and needs that remain to be filled before in-depth assessments may be carried out. We also evaluate constraints induced by variability in information sources within and between countries.It is readily apparent that activity data for grassland management is collected less frequently and on a coarser scale than data for forest or agricultural inventories and that grassland activity data cannot be directly translated into IPCC-type factors as is done for IPCC inventories of agricultural soils. However, those management data that are available can serve to delineate broad-scale differences in management activities within regions in which soil C is likely to change in response to changes in management. This, coupled with the distinct possibility of more intensive surveys planned in the future, may enable more accurate assessments of grassland C dynamics with higher resolution both spatially and in the number management activities.


Soil carbon sequestration Grasslands Management activity data 



This research was supported by grants from the Ruminant Livestock Efficiency Program at the Environmental Protection Agency, the New Investigator Program at the National Aeronautics and Space Agency, and by funding to the Consortium for Agricultural Mitigation of Greenhouse Gases (CASMGS) from USDA/CSREES under Agreement No. 2001-38700-11092. Thanks to Randy Boone for contributing information about the regional-level grassland management projects in Kenya/Tanzania. Comments from Jean Reeder, Tom Boutton, and Joel Brown on an earlier version of this manuscript improved the final manuscript.


  1. 1.
    Boone, R. B., Burnsilver, S. 2003Integrated assessment results to support policy decisions in Ngornogoro Conservation Area, TanzaniaUniversity of CaliforniaDavis, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Boone, R. B., Coughenour, M. B., Galvin, K. A., Ellis, J. E. 2002Addressing management questions for Ngorongoro Conservation Area using the Savanna modeling system.African Journal of Ecology40138150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Burnsilver, S., Boone, R. B., Galvin, K. A. 2003Linking pastoralists to a heterogeneous landscape: The case of four Maasai group ranches in Kajiado District, Kenya. Pages 173–196Fox, J.Mishra, V.Rindfuss, R.Walsh, S. eds. Liking household and remotely sensed data: methodological and practical problems.KluwerBostonGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Conant, R. T., and K. Paustian. 2003. Potential soil carbon sequestration in overgrazed grassland ecosystems. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 16:article no. 1143. Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Conant, R. T., Paustian, K., Elliott, E. T. 2002Pasture land use in the southeastern US: Implications for C sequestration. Pages 423–432Lal, R.Follet, R. F.Kimble, J. M. eds. Agricultural practices and policies for carbon sequestration in soil.CRC PressBoca Raton, FloridaGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    FAO. 1999. FAO STAT statistical database 1997. FAO, Rome.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Follett, R. F., Kimble, J. M., Lal, R. 2001The potential of US grazing lands to sequester soil carbon. Pages 401–430Follett, R. F.Kimble, J. M.Lal, R. eds. The potential of US grazing lands to sequester soil carbon.CRC PressChelsea, MichiganGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Galvin, K. A., J. E. Ellis, R. B. Boone, A. Magennis, N. M. Smith, S. J. Lynn, and P. Thornton. 2003. Compatability of pastoralism and conservation? A test case using integrated assessment in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania. In D. Chatty, and M. Colester (eds.), Displacement, forced settlement and conservation. Berghahn, Oxford (in press).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Girard, C. M., Benoit, M., De Vaubernier, E., Curran, P. 1990SPOT HRV data to discriminate grassland quality.International Journal of Remote Sensing1122532267Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Holdridge, L. R. 1947Determination of world plant formation from simple climatic data.Science105367368Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Houghton, J. T., L. G. Meira Filho, B. Lim, K. Treanton, I. Marmaty, Y. Bonduki, D. J. Griggs, and B. A. Callander. 1997. Revised 1996 IPCC guidelines for national greenhouse gas inventories. UK Meteorological Office, Bracknell, UK.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    IPCC. 1997. Revised 1996 IPCC guidelines for national greenhouse gas inventories: reference manual. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, UK Meteorological Office, Bracknell, UK.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Karfs, R., G. Bastin, V. Chewings, J. Bartolo, R. Grant, D. Lynch, S. Wauchope, I. Watson, and B. Wood. 2001. Resource inventory, condition assessment and monitoring activities on pastoral leases in the Northern Territory conducted by the department of lands planning and environment. Department of Agriculture, Western Australia, South Perth, p. 70.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Lal, R., Kimble, J. M., Follett, R. F., Cole, C. V. 1998The potential of U.S. cropland to sequester carbon and mitigate the greenhouse effectAnn Arbor PressChelsea, Michigan128Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Li, J., Liang, T., Chen, Q. 1998Estimating grassland yields using remote sensing and GIS technologies in China.New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research413138Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Loveland, T. R., Belward, A. S. 1997The IGBP-DIS global 1 km land cover data set, DISCover: first results.International Journal of Remote Sensing1832893295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Nabuurs, G.-J., Ravindranath, N. H., Annette, F., Hohenstein, B., Makundi, W., Aalde, H., Abdelgadir, A. Y., Khalil, A. S. A., Barton, J., Bickel, K., Bin-Musa, S., Blain, D., Boer, R., Byrne, K., Cerri, C. C., Ciccarese, L., Choque, D.-C., Duchemin, E., Dja, L., Ford-Robertson, J., Galinski, W., Germon, J. C., Ginzo, H., Gytarsky, M., Heath, L., Loustau, D., Mandouri, T., Mindas, J., Paustian, K., Sievanen, R., Skog, K., Smith, K. A., Xu, D., Bakker, M., Conant, R. T., Gordon, A., Harmon, M. E., Kirakawa, Y., Ichara, T., Ishizuka, M., Laine, J., van der Merwe, M., Murthy, I. K., Nowak, D., Sudha, P., Scholes, R. J., Zhang, X. 2003LUCF-sector good practice guidance.Penman, J.Gytarsky, M.Hirishi, T.Krug, T.Kruger, D. eds. IPCC Good Practice Guidance for LULUCF.UK Meteorological OfficeBracknell, UKGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Oldeman, L. R. 1994The global extent of soil degradation. Pages 99–118Greenland, D. J.Szabolcs, I. eds. Soil resilience and sustainable land use.CAB International Wallingford, UKGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Pickup, G. 1994Modelling patterns of defoliation by grazing animals in rangelands.Journal of Applied Ecology31231246Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Powlson, D. S., Smith, P., Coleman, K., Smith, J. U., Glendining, M. J., Korschens, M., Franko, U. 1998A European network of long-term sites for studies on soil organic matter.Soil & Tillage Research47263274Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Price, K. P., Egbert, S. L., Nellis, M. D., Lee, R.-Y., Boyce, R. 1997Mapping land cover in a High Plains agro-ecosystem using a multi-date Landsat Thematic Mapper modeling approach.Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Sciences1002133Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Price, K. P., Crooks, T. J., Martinko, E. A. 2001Grasslands across time and space: A remote sensing perspective.Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing67414Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Sampson, R. N., Scholes, R. J., Cerri, C., Erda, L., Hall, D. O., Handa, M., Hill, P., Howden, M., Janzen, H., Kimble, J., Lal, R., Marland, G., Minami, K., Paustian, K., Read, P., Sanchez, P. A., Scoppa, C., Solberg, B., Trossero, M. A., Trumbore, S., Van Cleemput, O., Whitmore, A., Xu, D., Burrows, B., Conant, R., Liping, G., Hall, W., Kaegi, W., Reyenga, P., Roulet, N., Skog, K. E., Smith, G. R., Wang, Y. 2000Additional human-induced activities—article 3.4. Pages 180–281Watson, R. T.Noble, I. R.Bolin, B.Ravindranath, N. H.Verardo, D. J.Dokken, D. J. eds. Land use, land-use change, and forestry.Cambridge University PressCambridge, ukGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Schimel, D. S., Braswell, B. H., McKeown, R., Ojima, D. S., Parton, W. J., Pulliam, W. 1996Climate and nitrogen controls on the geography and timescales of terrestrial biogeochemical cycling.Global Biogeochemical Cycles10677692CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Sere, C., H. Stenifeld, and J. Groenewold. 1996. World livestock production systems: Current status, issues and trends. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, 48 pp.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Stolbowoi, V., and I. McCallum. 2002. Land Resources of Russia. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and The Russian Academy of Sciences. Digital data, CD-ROM.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Thompson, A. G. 1995Airborne radiometry and a sheep grazing experiment on dune grassland.International Journal of Remote Sensing16981988Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Thornthwaite, C. W. 1948An approach toward a rational classification of climate.Geographical Review385594Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Thornton, P. K., K. A. Galvin, and R. B. Boone. 2003. An agro-pastoral household model for the rangelands of East Africa. Agricultural Systems (in press).Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    USDA2002National resources inventory digital dataNatural Resource Conservation ServiceWashington, DCGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Natural Resource Ecology LaboratoryColorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1499USA
  2. 2.Department of Soil and Crop SciencesColorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1170USA

Personalised recommendations