Sustainable Soil Fertility Management and Carbon Sequestration in Cropland

Defining the Role of Sustainable Soil Fertility Management for Organic Carbon Sequestration in Croplands

New Review Provides a Synthesis of the Opportunities for Sustainable Soil Fertility Management to Contribute to Soil Organic Carbon Sequestration in Cropland.

Ahead of the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) taking place on September 23, 2021, a scientific consortium of agricultural research and development organizations has released a white paper titled “Potential and limitations of soil organic carbon sequestration in croplands: the role of sustainable fertility management.” 

The group of scientists — representing the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P), the African Plant Nutrition Institute (APNI)OCP North America (OCP NA), and the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) — argue that maintaining or enhancing the SOC stocks is one of the most critical interventions to fight against climate change, soil degradation and ensuring the sustainability of agriculture.

This publication provides a thorough review and synthesis of the current scientific evidence for the potential of various crop, soil and nutrient management practices to enhance soil C sequestration in many regions of the world.

“… adoption of fertilizer management practices with chemical fertilization and manure application along with crop residue retention are among the most efficient and effective way to increase SOC accumulation or reduce SOC loss in arable soils. In areas with nutrient deficiency, mineral fertilizers support the dual agronomic and environmental benefits by increasing crop yields and biomass and thus the crop residue and root carbon input to soil.”  – UNFSS White Paper

Current evidence is clear that a site-specific nutrient management using a combination of mineral and organic fertilizers, combined with other good agronomic practices, can deliver optimal results for farmers and for food security. However, the authors highlight the need for additional research to provide policy-makers and farmers with a regionally nuanced evidence base that will further encourage widespread adoption of SOC-enhancing practices.

Soil organic C content in soils around the world (SoilGrids – ISRIC).

“This paper provides a global perspective but also zooms in on the critical need for the widespread adoption of agronomic practices suited to create sustainable cropping systems in the highly weathered, infertile soils of the tropics that support the vast majority of the world’s poor and malnourished,”  explains APNI Director General and Co-author, Dr. Kaushik Majumdar.

More About the Authors
The white paper “Potential and limitations of soil organic carbon sequestration in croplands: the role of sustainable fertility management” is authored by Rachid Moussadek, International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), Ngonidzashe Chirinda, Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P), Leonardus Vergutz, UM6P, Kaushik Majumdar, UM6P and African Plant Nutrition Institute (APNI), Shamie Zingore, UM6P and APNI, Abdelmohssin El Mokkadem, UM6P, and Amarjit Basra, OCP North America (OCP NA).