The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched two practical instruments designed to encourage soil organic carbon (SOC) maintenance and sequestration. These are both important requirements for healthier and more fertile soils.
Carbon sequestration involves the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This is done in the form of soil organic carbon (SOC), with the capture of the gas in the soil.
Beyond its value in agriculture, the process is a tool for climate action through its reduction of greenhouse gases.
The practical tools launched include a map illustrating how much and where the carbon dioxide has been captured by soil. Furthermore, the technical manual of good practices to sequester and maintain soil organic carbon stocks.
The map offers layers of information that help users to visualize crucial data such as initial SOC stocks and predicted SOC stocks. In addition, under various sustainable soil management and business-as-usual scenarios, as well as relative sequestration rates for each scenario.
These will range from crop rotation methods refined over thousands of years to modern nutrient management techniques. Moreover, the technical manual offers practical solutions for all kinds of terrains and situations.
“We must look for innovative ways to transform our agri-food systems to be more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable. Healthy soils are critical in achieving this,” observed Mr Qu Dongyu, the FAO Director-General during the recent virtual launch.
According to experts, the degradation of a third of the world’s soils has released about 78 gigatonnes of carbon into the atmosphere. Further damage to soil carbon stocks through poor soil management will hamper efforts to contain a rise in global temperatures.
Researchers note that as the climate changes, it is likely that more carbon will be lost to the atmosphere. This will be worsened by poor agricultural practices, resulting in a soil carbon-climate feedback loop that could accelerate climate change.
Hotspots such as peatlands, black soils, and grasslands, that have the highest amount of soil organic carbon.
According to the FAO, managing soils sustainably and rehabilitating degraded agricultural soils can mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis. Additionally this can improve food security and nutrition.
Healthy soils have proven to be more productive and resilient to changing climate patterns and extreme events.