Carbon Land Management Practices
There is a variety of considerations when understanding how land management practices affect soil organic carbon on your primary production property. The modules below outline the major factors to help start you on your carbon farming journey.
There are a number of different options to manage carbon on your property. They can be divided into two broad groups:
- management practices that store carbon
- management practices that reduce emissions.
In relation to storing carbon in the soil, soil texture and climate affect the amount of organic carbon that can be held in the soil. Management has little influence over climate (unless a site is irrigated) or clay content (unless texture has been modified such as clay addition to sandy soil) however, there are management practices that can affect soil organic carbon.
Management practices that aim to increase organic matter inputs above and below ground need to be coupled with practices that decrease soil organic carbon losses. When a practice is implemented, it needs to be according to principles that lead to a net improvement in soil organic carbon. For example, it is widely considered that grazing permanent pasture leads to increases in soil organic carbon compared to annual cropping. However, over-grazing and baring soil will lower organic matter inputs and increase susceptibility to erosion, resulting in lower soil organic carbon values than under cropping. Changes in management practices need to be carefully considered in relation to what is practical, economical and appropriate for the long-term goals of the enterprise.
It is important to identify soils that have capacity to increase soil organic carbon through changes in management practices, and those soils already near or at their carbon storage potential. Soils with lower initial soil organic carbon stocks have a greater opportunity to store more soil organic carbon than those with higher stocks.