Methods for Measuring Greenhouse Gas Balances and Evaluating Mitigation Options in Smallholder Agriculture

pp 135-162

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Methods for Smallholder Quantification of Soil Carbon Stocks and Stock Changes

  • Gustavo SaizAffiliated withKarlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Atmospheric Environmental Research (IMK-IFU) Email author 
  • , Alain AlbrechtAffiliated withInstitute of Research for Development (IRD)


Smallholder agricultural systems in tropical and subtropical regions may have significantly contributed to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the past number of decades. As a result, these systems currently offer large GHG mitigation potentials (e.g., soil organic carbon (SOC) sequestration), which can be realized through the implementation of good management and sustainable agricultural practices. In this chapter we synthesize current available methodologies designed to assess SOC stocks and stock changes. From this analysis, it becomes apparent that the design and subsequent implementation of any quantification and monitoring scheme envisaged for studies focusing solely on the soil component greatly differs from those developed for whole ecosystem accounting, not just in its approach, but also in the amount of resources needed to implement it within a given degree of accuracy. We provide analyses and recommendations on methods specifically dealing with quantification and assessment of SOC at both the individual farm and the landscape scale in smallholder agricultural systems.