Soil Carbon Sequestration

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 4, 2022, 8:23

Soil Carbon Sequestration is the process of removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it in the carbon pool of the soil. Plants are principally responsible for this process, which involves the storage of carbon in the form of SOC.

Soil Carbon Sequestration can also occur in arid and semi-arid settings when CO2 from the air in the soil is converted into inorganic forms such as secondary carbonates.

Soil Carbon Sequestration Benefits

  • Soil Carbon Sequestration could help achieve climate mitigation targets because carbon is the principal GHG released by human activities.
  • Cropland soils, particularly those with substantial yield gaps and/or large history of soil organic carbon losses, have the greatest potential for Soil Carbon Sequestration.
  • The most often quoted figure is from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which forecasts that global Soil Carbon Sequestration could offset up to 5.3 GtCO2 per year by 2030.
  • Soil Carbon Sequestration aids in the restoration of deteriorated soils, increasing agricultural output.
  • If soils are disturbed, the carbon collected by Soil Carbon Sequestration can be released; civilizations would need to support suitable soil management techniques indefinitely.

Effects of Soil Carbon Sequestration

  • CO2 is released into the atmosphere by human activities such as the combustion of fossil fuels, the usage of firewood, the practice of gas flaring, the manufacture of cement, and possibly the change of the terrestrial biosphere.
  • Based on computer climate modelling, increases in minor greenhouse gases (GHGs) are hypothesised to produce considerable increases in surface and lower air temperatures.
  • Carbon dioxide levels are expected to rise, which will promote plant growth. Because faster leaf area development and a bigger overall leaf area result in more transpiration, Soil Carbon Sequestration helps to improve soil quality.
  • As carbon dioxide levels rise, the leaf stomatal conductance to water vapour will decrease. This action may diminish transpiration.
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Types of Soil Carbon Sequestration

  • Oceans absorb around a quarter of the carbon dioxide released by human activities each year. In the ocean, carbon travels in both directions. A positive atmospheric flux occurs when carbon dioxide from the ocean is released into the atmosphere. The ocean absorbs carbon dioxide, which is referred to as a negative flux. Consider these fluxes as an inhale and an exhale, with the overall effect decided by the net effect of these opposing directions.
  • Plants sequester carbon in soil through photosynthesis, which can then be stored as soil organic carbon (SOC). Although agroecosystems can degrade and deplete SOC levels, the carbon deficit provides an opportunity to store carbon through novel land management practices.
  • Plant-rich environments such as forests, grasslands, and rangelands capture about 25% of global carbon emissions. When plants die or their leaves and branches fall off, the carbon stored in them either escapes into the atmosphere or is transferred to the soil. The loss of forests as a carbon sink can be worsened by wildfires and human activities such as deforestation.

Soil Carbon Sequestration helps to reduce the atmospheric content of Carbon dioxide by storing it in the soil pool. This helps to reduce the drastic climate changes caused due to the emissions of Carbon Dioxide and helps improve the quality of soil by making it rich in nutrients by providing carbon dioxide to the plants.

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FAQs on Soil Carbon Sequestration

Q.1. What is the main benefit offered by Soil Carbon Sequestration?

Soil Carbon Sequestration helps in controlling the atmospheric levels of CO2, at the same time they help promote plant growth by increasing the CO2 content in the soil.

Q.2. How much amount of Soil Carbon Sequestration can a type of soil go through?

Soil Carbon Sequestration may absorb roughly 20 Pg C in 25 years, accounting for more than 10% of all anthropogenic emissions.

Q.3. How does the process of Soil Carbon Sequestration take place in soil?

Plants ingest carbon by ingesting carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and return some of it to the atmosphere through respiration. When plants die and degrade, the carbon that stays in plant tissue is devoured by animals or contributed to the soil as litter is the process of Soil Carbon Sequestration that takes place in the soil.

Q.4. What are the applications of Carbon Sequestration?

Coal gasification, ethanol generation, fertiliser manufacturing, natural gas processing, and refinery hydrogen production are all examples of Soil Carbon Sequestration applications.

Q.5. What are the suitable methods to improve Soil Carbon Sequestration?

Some of the approaches that promote Soil Carbon Sequestration include the use of perennial grain crops, improved crop rotations, cover cropping, tillage, manure and compost addition, conversion to perennial grasses and legumes, improved grazing land management, and biochar additions.