The Dynamics of Soil Carbon in Rangelands

TitleThe Dynamics of Soil Carbon in Rangelands
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsSchuman G.E., Herrick JE, Janzen H.H.
Book TitleCarbon Sequestration Potential of U.S. Grazing Lands
PublisherAnn Arbor Press
CityChelsea, MI
ARIS Log Number101953
KeywordsC storage, grazing strategies, management, rangeland, sequestration, soil carbon
AbstractCarbon dynamics of rangeland soils are very complex and only limited detailed research has been conducted to assess the role of management and grazing strategies on soil C changes and the potential for enhanced C sequestration. Soil erosion also can impact the soil C pools in rangeland ecosystems, but much of the erosion does not result in loss of C from the landscape but rather a repositioning on the landscape. In an attempt to estimate the effects of management on the C storage potential of the rangeland ecosystems, we have reviewed the literature on the subject and made some assumptions in order to make some qualitative estimates of C sequestration potential and potential avoided losses of C through management. We believe about 19 Tg C yr-1 can be sequestered through management on lands that are in need of improved management and through soil C regeneration in CRP lands. However, we estimate that 44 Tg C yr-1 can be maintained through ensured good management and by preventing CRP lands from being brought back into crop production. The estimated 63 Tg C yr-1 that can be sequestered and/or prevented from being lost from well- managed rangelands and through maintenance of CRP lands may be small in comparison to the estimates of C sequestration by improved production prac- tices on croplands in the U.S.; however, this level of C storage in a natural ecosystem tends to be more stable and less prone to major C losses through erosional losses and shifts in management.