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EOS Spotlight: Conservation Farming Shown to Protect Carbon in Soil

Corn plants growing in rural central Pennsylvania. Credit: fishhawk, CC BY 2.0

04 Feb 2016
News Source: EOS

A closer look at cultivated land informs actions to protect the vitality of our soil.

Image: Corn plants growing in rural central Pennsylvania. Credit: fishhawk, CC BY 2.0 [Click image to enlarge]

Agriculture is crucial to modern society, but all the technological farming advances in the world are useless without healthy soil—and healthy soil requires plenty of carbon. When organic matter breaks down in the soil, it releases carbon that fuels plant growth, allows the soil to store more water, and helps hold soil particles together. But when done carelessly, human activities like farming can deplete the soil’s carbon and render the land incapable of supporting life.

Many previous studies have measured concentrations of carbon in the soil from organic sources, and here Papanicolaou et al. contribute new results that account for the uneven slope of the ground, focusing on land that is constantly disturbed by human activities.

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From soilscapes to landscapes: A landscape-oriented approach to simulate soil organic carbon dynamics in intensively managed landscapes. Papanicolaou, A.N., K.M. Wacha, B.K. Abban, C.G. Wilson, J. Hatfield, C. Stanier, and T. Filley (2015): Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences

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Soil Science / Pedology


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