Global estimates of soil carbon sequestration via livestock waste: a STELLA simulation
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- Fellman, J.B., Franz, E.H., Crenshaw, C.L. et al. Environ Dev Sustain (2009) 11: 871. doi:10.1007/s10668-008-9157-0
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It has become increasingly well documented that human activities are enhancing the greenhouse effect and altering the global climate. Identifying strategies to mitigate atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions on the national level are therefore critical. Fossil fuel combustion is primarily responsible for the perturbation of the global carbon cycle, although the influence of humans extends far beyond the combustion of fossil fuels. Changes in land use arising from human activities contribute substantially to atmospheric carbon dioxide; however, land use changes can act as a carbon dioxide sink as well. A soil carbon model was built using STELLA to explore how soil organic carbon sequestration (SOC) varies over a range of values for key parameters and to estimate the amount of global soil carbon sequestration from livestock waste. To obtain soil carbon sequestration estimates, model simulations occurred for 11 different livestock types and with data for eight regions around the world. The model predicted that between 1980 and 1995, United States soils were responsible for the sequestration of 444–602 Tg C from livestock waste. Model simulations further predicted that during the same period, global soil carbon sequestration from livestock waste was 2,810–4,218 Tg C. Our estimates for global SOC sequestration are modest in proportion to other terrestrial carbon sinks (i.e. forest regrowth); however, livestock waste does represent a potential for long-term soil carbon gain. SOC generated from livestock waste is another example of how human activities and land use changes are altering soil processes around the world.