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Soil carbon sequestration in grazing systems: managing expectations

Godde, Cécile M.; de Boer, Imke J.M.; zu Ermgassen, Erasmus; Herrero, Mario; van Middelaar, Corina E.; Müller, Adrian; Röös, Elin; Schader, Christian; Smith, Pete; Van Zanten, Hannah H.E. and Garnett, Tara (2020) Soil carbon sequestration in grazing systems: managing expectations. Climatic Change, 161, pp. 385-391.

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Document available online at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-020-02673-x


Grazing systems emit greenhouse gases, which can, under specific agro-ecological conditions, be partly or entirely offset by soil carbon sequestration. However, any sequestration is time-limited, reversible, and at a global level outweighed by emissions from grazing systems. Thus, grazing systems are globally a net contributor to climate change and the time scale of key processes needs to be factored into any mitigation efforts. Failing to do so leads to unrealistic expectations of soil carbon management in grazing systems as a mitigation strategy. Protecting the large carbon stocks in grazing lands is also essential in order to avoid further climate change from additional CO2 release. Despite the time-limited and reversible nature of soil carbon sequestration in grazing lands, sequestration should be promoted in cases where it delivers environmental and agronomic benefits as well as for its potential, particularly on degraded land, to increase the feasibility of limiting global warming to less than 2 or preferably 1.5 °C. Some peer-reviewed sequestration estimates are of a similar order of magnitude to other food systems mitigation options over a 10–20 years period, such as reducing food loss and waste by 15% or aligning diets with current health related dietary-recommendations. However, caution should be applied to such comparisons since mitigation estimates are associated with large uncertainties and will ultimately depend on the economic cost-benefit relation, feasibility of implementation and time frame considered.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:grasslands, soil carbon, climate change, livestock, cattle, greenhouse gases, departement of socio-economics, FiBL35172, Abacus
Agrovoc keywords:
Subjects: Animal husbandry
Environmental aspects > Air and water emissions
Research affiliation:Belgium > Flanders > University Leuven (K.U. Leuven) – (Leuven)
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Society > Rural sociology
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Sustainability > Climate
Sweden > Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) > SLU Centre for organic Food and Farming, Epok
UK > Other organizations
UK > Univ. Oxford
Netherlands > Wageningen University & Research (WUR)
Australia > Other organizations
Deposited By: Muller, Adrian
ID Code:38489
Deposited On:07 Oct 2020 08:54
Last Modified:15 Mar 2022 10:24
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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