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Conservation Agriculture and Soil Carbon Sequestration

  • Ch. SrinivasaraoEmail author
  • Rattan Lal
  • Sumanta Kundu
  • Pravin B Thakur
Chapter

Abstract

Changes to agricultural practices in response to climate change and widespread soil degradation are being investigated to improve food security, enhance environmental conservation, and achieve sustainability. Since soil organic carbon (SOC) concentration is a strong determinant of soil physicochemical and biological activities, carbon (C) sequestration in agricultural soils requires changes to management practices. Conservation agriculture (CA)—based on minimum soil disturbance, adequate surface cover, and complex crop rotations—has been proposed as an alternative system to conventional agriculture. This chapter reviews potential impacts of CA mainly on C sequestration, collates information on the influence of tillage, integrated nutrient management (INM), fertilizers, residue management and cover crops on SOC stocks, and deliberates on the mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, economics, etc. by CA from existing case studies. Whether conversion to a CA system can increase C sequestration is not yet clear. More research is needed, particularly long-term research, to delineate ecological conditions suitable for adaptation in a CA system. Harshness of arid and semiarid climate exacerbates the risk of soil degradation by depleting SOC stock and increasing risks of erosion and salinization. Widespread adoption of CA can reduce the cost of farm operations including fuel consumption, while conserving soil water, improving soil functions, controlling erosion, and sustaining productivity.

Keywords

Conservation tillage Carbon management Carbon credit Organic matter System productivity Zero tillage Sustainability India 

Abbreviations

AICRPDA

All India Coordinated Research Project for Dryland Agriculture

BGA

Blue–Green Algae

BMPs

Best management practices

C

Carbon

CA

Conservation agriculture

CDM

Clean development mechanisms

CER

Certified emission reduction

CIMMYT

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center

CR

Crop residue

CT

Conventional tillage

FYM

Farm yard manure

GHGs

Greenhouse gases

GWP

Global warming potential

IGP

Indo-Gangetic Plains

INM

Integrated nutrient management

IPNS

Integrated plant nutrient system

K

Potassium

N

Nitrogen

NT

No-till

P

Phosphorus

PDFSR

Project Directorate of Farming Systems Research

RDF

Recommended dose of fertilizer

RDN

Recommended dose of nitrogen

RMPs

Recommended management practices

S

Sulfur

SOC

Soil organic carbon

SOM

Soil organic matter

SSNM

Site-specific nutrient management

UNFCC

United Nations Framework Convention on climate change

VAM

Vesicular Arbuscular Mycorrhyza

Zn

Zinc

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ch. Srinivasarao
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rattan Lal
    • 2
  • Sumanta Kundu
    • 1
  • Pravin B Thakur
    • 1
  1. 1.Central Research Institute for Dryland AgricultureHyderabadIndia
  2. 2.Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, SNER/OAR DC, The Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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