Food Security

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 169–177 | Cite as

Beyond Copenhagen: mitigating climate change and achieving food security through soil carbon sequestration

Original Paper

Abstract

This article explains the technical potential of C (carbon) sequestration in world soils for mitigating climate change and describes its positive impacts on agronomic productivity and global food security through the improvement of soil quality. It also supports the idea of economic development through the provision of payments to farmers in developing countries for their stewardship and enhancement of ecosystem services. These would be generated by their use of recommended management practices for improved agriculture. The technical potential of C sequestration in soils of terrestrial ecosystems and restoration of peat soils is ∼3 Petagram (Pg) C/yr (i.e. 3 × 1015 g = 3 × 109 tonnes C/yr) or 50 ppm draw down of atmospheric CO2 by the end of the 21st century by increasing the soil C pool at a rate of 1 Mg/ha/yr. Depending upon climate and other variables, this could increase cereal and food legume production in developing countries by 32 million Mg/yr and roots and tubers by 9 million Mg/yr. It is precisely this strategy which would have received broad political support at the COP-15 meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009 from developing countries, emerging economies and the industrialized world. Addressing the issue of food-insecurity and global warming through sequestration of C in soils and the biota, along with payments to resource-poor farmers for the ecosystem services rendered, would be a timely win-win strategy.

Keywords

Carbon trading Climate change Food security Organic matter management Soil carbon sequestration 

References

  1. Aggarwal RK, Kumar P, Power JF (1997) Use of crop residue and manure to conserve water and enhance nutrient availability and pearl millet yields in an arid tropical region. Soil Tillage Res 41:43–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Al-Juaied M, Whitmore A (2009) Realistic cost of carbon capture. John F. Kennedy School, HarvardCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aune J, Lal R (1997) Agricultural productivity in the tropics and critical limits of properties of oxisols, ultisols and alfisols. Trop Agric (Trinidad) 74:96–103Google Scholar
  4. Barber SA (1979). Corn residue management and soil organic matter. Journal Paper No. 7314, Purdue Univ. Agric. Exp. Stn., West Lafayette, INGoogle Scholar
  5. Barrow CJ (1991) Land degradation: development and breakdown of terrestrial environments. Cambridge Univ. Press, UKGoogle Scholar
  6. Bationo A, Ntare BR (2000) Rotation and nitrogen fertilizer effects on pearl millet, cowpea and groundnut yield and soil chemical properties in a sandy soil in the semi-arid tropics, West Africa. J Agr Sci 134:277–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bauer A, Black AL (1994) Quantification of the effect of soil organic matter content on soil productivity. Soil Sci Soc Am J 58:185–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Becker M, Johnson DE (2001) Cropping intensity effects on upland rice yield and sustainability in West Africa. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 59:107–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Benbi DK, Chand M (2007) Quantifying the effect of soil organic matter on indigenous soil N supply and wheat productivity in semiarid sub-tropical India. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 79:103–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Beyer L, Sieling K, Pingpank K (1999) The impact of a low humus level in arable soils on microbial properties, soil organic matter quality and crop yield. Biol Fertil Soils 28:156–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cai ZC, Qin SW (2006) Dynamics of crop yields and soil organic carbon in a long-term fertilization experiment in the Huang-Huai-Hai Plain of China. Geoderma 136:708–715CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Carter MR (2002) Soil quality for sustainable land management: organic matter and aggregation interactions that maintain soil functions. Agron J 94:38–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chu S (2009) Carbon capture and sequestration. Science 325:1599CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Conant RT, Paustian K, Elliot T (2001) Grassland management and conversion into grassland: effects on soil carbon pool. Ecol Appl 11:343–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cotching WE, Hawkins K, Sparrow LA, McCorkell BE, Rowley W (2002) Crop yields and soil properties on eroded slopes of red ferrosols in north-west Tasmania. Aust J Soil Res 40:625–642CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Craswell ET, Lefroy RDB (2001) The role and function of organic matter in tropical soils. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 61:7–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dang NT, Klinnert C (2001) Problems with and local solutions for organic matter management in Vietnam. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 61:89–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Díaz-Zorita M, Grosso GA (2000) Effect of soil texture, organic carbon and water retention on the compatibility of soils from the Argentinean pampas. Soil Tillage Res 54:121–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Díaz-Zorita M, Buschiazzo DE, Peinemann N (1999) Soil organic matter and wheat productivity in the semiarid Argentine Pampas. Agron J 91:276–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Diels J, Aihou K, Iwuafor ENO, Merckx R, Lyasse O, Sanginga N et al (2002) Options for soil organic carbon maintenance under intensive cropping in the West African Savannah. In: Vanlauwe B, Diels J, Sanginga N, Merckx R (eds) Integrated plant nutrient management in sub-Saharan Africa. CAB International, Wallingford, pp 299–312Google Scholar
  21. DOE (1999) Carbon sequestration: research and development. US DOE, SpringfieldGoogle Scholar
  22. Dong J, Hengsdijk H, Dai T-B, de Boer W, Jing Q, Cao W-X (2006) Long-term effect of manure and inorganic fertilizers on yield and soil fertility for a winter wheat-maize system in Jiangsu, China. Pedosphere 16(1):25–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Duxbury JM (2001) Long-term yield trends in the rice-wheat cropping system: results from experiments and Northwest India. J Crop Prod 3:27–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Emerson WW (1995) Water retention, organic C and soil texture. Aust J Soil Res 33:241–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fabrizzi KP, Morón A, García FO (2003) Soil carbon and nitrogen organic fractions in degraded vs. non-degraded mollisols in Argentina. Soil Sci Soc Am J 67:1831–1841CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fahnestock P, Lal R, Hall GF (1995) Land use and erosional effects on two Ohio alfisols: II. Crop yields. J Sustain Agric 7(2/3):85–100Google Scholar
  27. FAO (2009) Food security and agricultural mitigation in developing countries: options for capturing synergies. FAO, Rome, 79 ppGoogle Scholar
  28. Farquharson RJ, Schwenke GD, Mullen JD (2003) Should we manage soil organic carbon in vertosols in the northern grains region of Australia? Aust J Exp Agric 43:261–270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Flugge F, Abadi A (2006) Farming carbon: an economic analysis of agroforestry for carbon sequestration and dryland salinity reduction in Western Australia. Agroforest Syst 68:181–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ganzhara NF (1998) Humus, soil properties and yield. Eurasian Soil Sci 31(7):738–745Google Scholar
  31. Gore A (2009) Our choice: a plan to solve the climate crisis. Rodale, Emmaus, p 415Google Scholar
  32. Greenland DJ, Rimmer D, Payne D (1975) Determination of the structural stability class of English and Welsh soils, using a water coherence test. J Soil Sci 26:294–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hansen J, Sato M, Kharecha P, Beerling D, Berner R, Masson-Delmotte V et al (2008) Target atmospheric CO2: where should humanity aim? Open Atmos Sci J 2:217–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Huntington TG (2003) Available water capacity and soil organic matter. Encyclopedia of Soil Sci. doi:10.1081/E-ESS 120018496 Google Scholar
  35. Jankauskas B, Jankauskiené G, Fullen MA (2007) Relationships between soil organic matter content and soil erosion severity in albeluvisols of the Žemaičiai Uplands. Ekologija 53(1):21–28Google Scholar
  36. Johnston AE (1986) Soil organic matter, effects on soils and crops. Soil Use and Manage 2(3):97–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kanchikerimath M, Singh D (2001) Soil organic matter and biological properties after 26 years of maize-wheat-cowpea cropping as affected by manure and fertilization in a Cambisol in semiarid region of India. Agric Ecosyst Environ 86:155–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kapkiyai JJ, Karanja NK, Qureshi JN, Smithson PC, Woomer PL (1999) Soil organic matter and nutrient dynamics in a Kenyan nitisol under long-term fertilizer and organic input management. Soil Biol Biochem 31:1773–1782CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kemper WD, Coach EJ (1966) Aggregate stability of soils from western United States and Canada. USDA Tech. Bull. #1355, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  40. Lal R (1981) Soil erosion problems on alfisols in western Nigeria. VI. Effects of erosion on experimental plots. Geoderma 25:215–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lal R (2000) Physical management of soils of the tropics: priorities for the 21st century. Soil Sci 165(3):191–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lal R (2004) Soil carbon sequestration impacts on global climate change and food security. Science 304:1623–1627CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Lal R (2006a) Enhancing crop yield in the developing countries through restoration of soil organic carbon pool in agricultural lands. Land Degrad Dev 17:197–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lal R (2006b) Managing soils for feeding a global population of 10 billion. J Sci Food Agric 86:2273–2284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lal R (2009) Sequestration of carbon in soils of arid ecosystems. Land Degrad Dev 20:441–454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lal R (2010) Carbon sequestration in saline soils. J Soil Salinity Water Qual 1(1&2):30–40Google Scholar
  47. Lal R, Hassan HM, Dumanski J (1999) Desertification control to sequester carbon and mitigate the greenhouse effect. In: Rosenberg NJ, Iguarralde RC, Malone EL (eds) Carbon sequestration in soils: science, monitoring and beyond. Battelle, Columbus, pp 83–151Google Scholar
  48. Larbi A, Smith JW, Adekunle IO, Agyare WA, Gbaraneh LD, Tanko RJ et al (2002) Crop residues for mulch and feed in crop-livestock systems: impact on maize grain yield and soil properties in the West African humid forest and Savanna zones. Exp Agric 38:253–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Loveland P, Webb J (2003) Is there a critical level of organic matter in the agricultural soils of temperate regions: a review. Soil Tillage Res 70:1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Lucas RE, Holtman JB, Connor JL (1977) Soil carbon dynamics and cropping practices. In: Lockeretz W (ed) Agriculture and energy. Academic, New York, pp 333–351Google Scholar
  51. Majumdar B, Mandal B, Bandyopadhyay PK, Chaudhury J (2007) Soil organic carbon pools and productivity relationships for a 34 year old rice-wheat-jute agroecosystems under different fertilizer treatments. Plant Soil 297:53–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Mando A, Ouattara B, Somado AE, Wopereis MCS, Stroosnijder L, Breman H (2005a) Long-term effects of fallow, tillage and manure applicationon soil organic matter and nitrogen fractions and on sorghum yield under Sudano-Sahelian conditions. Soil Use Manage 21:25–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Mando A, Ouattara B, Sédogo M, Stroosnijder L, Ouattara K, Brussaard L et al (2005b) Long-term effect of tillage and manure application on soil organic fractions and crop performance under Sudano-Sahelian conditions. Soil Tillage Res 80:95–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. McKinsey & Co (2009) Pathways to a low-carbon economy. Version 2 of the global greenhouse gas abatement cost curve. McKinsey and Co., London, p 190Google Scholar
  55. More SD (1994) Effect of farm wastes and organic manures on soil properties, nutrient availability and yield of rice-wheat grown on Sodic Vertisol. J Indian Soc Soil Sci 42(2):253–256Google Scholar
  56. Nagarajan S (2005) Can India product enough wheat by 2020? Current Sci 89:1467–1471Google Scholar
  57. Pan G, Smith P, Pan W (2009) The role of soil organic matter in maintaining the productivity and yield stability of cereals in China. Agric Ecosyst Environ 129:344–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Petchawee S, Chaitep W (1995) Organic matter management for sustainable agriculture. In: LeFroy RDB, Blaci GJ, Craswell ET (eds) Organic matter management in upland systems in Thailand. ICIAR, Canberra, pp 21–26Google Scholar
  59. Qiu J-J, Wang L-G, Li H, Tang H-J, Li C-S, Van Ranst E (2009) Modeling the impacts of soil organic carbon content of croplands on crop yields in China. Agric Sci China 8(4):464–471Google Scholar
  60. Quansah C, Drechsel P, Yirenkyi BB, Asante-Mensah S (2001) Farmers: perceptions and management of soil organic matter—a case study from West Africa. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 61:205–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Quiroga A, Funaro D, Noellemeyer E, Peinemann N (2006) Barley yield response to soil organic matter and texture in the Pampas of Argentina. Soil Tillage Res 90:63–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Rasmussen PE, Parton WJ (1994) Long-term effects of residue management in wheat-fallow: I. Inputs, yield and soil organic matter. Soil Sci Soc Am J 58:523–530CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Rhodes ER (1995) Nutrient depletion by food crops in Ghana and soil organic nitrogen management. Agric Syst 48:101–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Roose E, Barthès B (2001) Organic matter management for soil conservation and productivity restoration in Africa: a contribution from Francophone research. Nutr Cycl Agroecosys 61:159–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Roy A (2010) The role of fertilizers in food production. In: Lal R, Stewart BA (eds) Food production and soil quality. Taylor and Francis, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  66. Salter PJ, Haworth F (1961) The available water capacity of a sandy loam soil. II. The effects of farmyard manure and different primary cultivations. J Soil Sci 12:335–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Sandhu KS, Benbi DK, Prihar SS (1996) Dryland wheat yields in relation to soil organic carbon, applied nitrogen, stored water and rainfall distribution. Fertil Res 44:9–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Schlesinger WH, Lichter J (2001) Limited carbon storage in soil and litter experimental forest plots under increased atmospheric CO2. Letters to Nature 411:466–469CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Shankar G, Verma LP, Singh R (2002) Effect of integrated nutrient management on yield and quality of Indian mustard (Brassica juncea) and properties of soil. Indian J Agric Sci 72(9):551–552Google Scholar
  70. Wang Z-Q, Liu B-Y, Wang X-Y, Gao X-F, Liu G (2009) Erosion effect on the productivity of black soil in Northeast China. Sci China Ser D-Earth Sci 52(7):1005–1021CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Wani SP, Sreedevi TK, Rockström J, Ramakrishna YS (2009) Rainfed agriculture: past, present and future prospects. In: Wani SP, Rockström J, Owens T (eds) Rainfed agriculture, unlocking the potential. CAB International, Wallingfod, pp 1–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Zhukov AI, Sorokina LV, Mosaleva VV (1993) Humus and grain-crop yield on Sod-Podzolic loamy sandy soil. Eurasian Soil Sci 25(6):82–91Google Scholar
  73. Zomer R, Trabucio A, Bossio DA, Verchot LV (2008) Climate change mitigation: a spatial analysis of global land suitability for clean development mechanism afforestation and reforestation. Agric Ecosyst Environ 126:67–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. & International Society for Plant Pathology 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Carbon Management and Sequestration CenterColumbusUSA

Personalised recommendations