Climatic Change

, Volume 49, Issue 1–2, pp 11–19 | Cite as

Sequestering of Atmospheric Carbon through Permanent Disposal of Crop Residue

  • Robert A. Metzger
  • Gregory Benford


We propose the sequestering of crop residues to capture a significant fraction(12%) of the present U.S. atmosphericcarbon emission through disposal in deep oceans below the thermocline or inriver deltas. In the United States, theannual carbon content in residues from corn, soybeans and wheat crops isapproximately 250 million tonnes. Globally, an additional 1 billion tonnes of carbon in the form of cropresidues may be available. Implementation ofthis sequestering proposal would allow the US to approach the CO2reductions stipulated under the KyotoProtocol.


Corn United States Carbon Content Crop Residue Significant Fraction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Agricultural Statistics: 1997, United States Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service ISBN 0–16–049031–6. For wheat I-1, for corn, I-25 for soybeans, III-13.Google Scholar
  2. Brewer, P. G., Friederich, G., Peltzer E. T., and Orr, F. M.: 1999, ‘Direct Experiment on the Ocean Disposal of Fossil Fuel CO2’, Science 5416, 943–945.Google Scholar
  3. Bull, L. and Sandretto, C.: 1996, Crop Residue Management and Tillage System Trends, ERS Statistical Bulletin #930, August.Google Scholar
  4. Capbell, C. A., McConkey, B. G., Zenter, R. P., Dyck, F. B., Selles, F., and Curtin, D.: 1995, ‘Carbon Sequestration in a Brown Chernozem as Affected by Tillage and Rotation’, Can. J. Soil Sci. 75, 449–458.Google Scholar
  5. Donahue, R. L., Miller R. W., and Shickluna, J.: 1977, Soils - An Introduction To Soils and Plant Growth, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, p. 145.Google Scholar
  6. Dyson, F. J.: 1977, ‘CanWe Control the Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere?’, Energy J. 2, 287–291.Google Scholar
  7. Dyson, F. J. and Marland, G.: 1979, Technical Fixes for Climatic Effects of CO2 in Workshop on the Global Effects of Carbon Dioxide from Fossil Fuels, 1977, Rep. CONF-770385, U.S. Dept. of Energy, Washington D.C., pp. 111–118.Google Scholar
  8. Franzluebbers, A. J., Hons F. M., and Zuberer: D. A., 1999: ‘Tilage and Crop Effects on Seasonal Soil Carbon and Nitrogen Dynamics’, Soil Sci. Soc. America 59, 1618–1624.Google Scholar
  9. Hedges, J. I. and Keil, R. G.: 1995, ‘Sedimentary Organic-Matter Preservation - An Assessement and Speculative Synthesis - Closing Comment’, Marine Chem. 49, 137–139.Google Scholar
  10. Heid, G. W.: 1984, Turning Great Plains Crop Residues and Other Products into Energy, USDA Economic Research Service, Agricultural Economic Report 523, November.Google Scholar
  11. Hertzog, H. J. and Drake, E. M.: 1998, ‘CO2 Capture, Reuse, and Sequestration Technologies for Mitigating Global Climate Change’, in Proceedings of the 23rd International Technical Conference on Coal Utilization & Fuel Systems, Clearwater, FL, March 9–13, pp. 615–626.Google Scholar
  12. Hertzog, H. J., Drake, E., and Adams, E.: 1997, CO 2 Capture, Reuse and Storage Technologies for Mitigating Global Climate Change, Final Report DOE Order No. DE-AF22–96PC01257, Energy Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  13. Hoffert, M. I., Caldeira, K., and Jain, A. K., 1998: ‘Energy Implications of Future Stabilization of Atmospheric CO2 Content’, Nature 195, 881–884.Google Scholar
  14. Hoffert, M. I., Callegari A. J., and Hsieh, C. T., 1980: ‘The Role of Deep Heat Storage in the Secular Response to Climatic Forcing’, J. Geophys. Res. 85(C11), 6667–6679.Google Scholar
  15. Holloway, S.: 1997, ‘An Overview of the Underground Disposal of Carbon Dioxide’, Energy Convers. Mgmt. 38, s193–s198.Google Scholar
  16. Houghton, R. A.: 1995, ‘Land-Use Change and the Carbon Cycle’, Global Change Biol. 1, 275–287.Google Scholar
  17. IPCC: 1996, ‘Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change: Contribution of Working Group I to the Second Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’, in Houghton J. T., Meira Filho, L. G., Collander, B. A., Harris, N., Kattenberg, A., and Maskell, K. (eds.), Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 1996, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K.Google Scholar
  18. Janovicek, K. J., Vyn T. J., and Voroney, R. P.: 1997, ‘No-Till Corn Response to Crop-Rotation and In-Row Residue Placement’, Agron. J. 89, 588–596.Google Scholar
  19. Kitani, O. and Hall, C. W. (eds.): 1989, Biomass Handbook, Gordon and Breach Science Publishers, Chap. 1.1.5, p. 56.Google Scholar
  20. Korbol, R. and Kaddour, A.: 1995, ‘Sleipner Vest CO2 Disposal - Injection and Removed CO2 into the Utsira Formation’, Energy Convers. Mgmt. 36, 509–512.Google Scholar
  21. Marchetti, C.: 1997, ‘On Geoengineering the CO2 Problem’, Clim. Change 1, 59–68.Google Scholar
  22. Martin, J. H., Fitzwater S. E., and Gordon, R. M.: 1990, ‘Iron Deficiency Limits Phytoplankton Growth off Antarctic Waters’, Global Biogeochem. Cycles 4, 5–12.Google Scholar
  23. Murray, C. N., Visintini, L., Bidoglio, G., and Henry, B.: 1996, ‘Permanent Storage of Carbon Dioxide in the Marine Environment: The Solid CO2 Penetrator’, Energy Convers. Mgmt. 37, 1067–1072.Google Scholar
  24. Parson, E. A. and Keith, D. W.: 1998, ‘Climate Change: Fossil Fuels without CO2 Emissions’, Science 282, 1053–1054.Google Scholar
  25. Peng, T. H. and Broecker, W. S.: 1991, ‘Dynamical Limitations of the Antarctic Iron Fertilization Strategy’, Nature 349, 227–229.Google Scholar
  26. Peterson, G. A., Halvorson, A. D., Havlin, J. L., Jones, O. R., Lyon D. J., and Tanaka, D. L.: 1998, ‘Reduced Tillage and Increasing Cropping Intensity in the Great Plains Conserves Soil C’, Soil Tillage Res. 47, 207–218.Google Scholar
  27. Purvis, W. K. and Orians, G. H.: 1983, Life - The Science of Biology, Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA, p. 200.Google Scholar
  28. Schmidt, K. and Kaiser, J.: 1998, ‘Coming to Grips with the World's Greenhouse Gases’, Science 281, 504–506.Google Scholar
  29. Sutherland, R. J.: 1998, ‘Strategies for Carbon Reduction’, Science 281, 647–648.Google Scholar
  30. Vyn, T. J. and Raimbault, B. A.: 1993, ‘Long-Tern Effect of 5 Tillage Systems on Corn Response and Soil-Structure’, Agron. J. 85, 1074–1079.Google Scholar
  31. Watts, R. G. (ed.): 1997, Engineering Response to Global Climate Change, Lewis, New York.Google Scholar
  32. Zepp, R. G. and Sonntag, Ch.: 1995, Process that Control Storage of Nonliving Organic Matter in Aquatic Environments, John Wiley and Sons. (Received 26 March 1999; in revised form 21 August 2000)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert A. Metzger
    • 1
  • Gregory Benford
    • 2
  1. 1.Georgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaU.S.A
  2. 2.University of CaliforniaIrvineU.S.A

Personalised recommendations