Managing pasture for animals and soil carbon

  • Parsons A
  • Rowarth J
  • Newton P
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There has been growing interest in including soil carbon (C) sequestration, as an offset to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, within New Zealand’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, even though national trends report soil C concentrations in many areas is declining. There are different schools of thought as to what drives changes in soil C (e.g. grazing management, fertiliser inputs, species) and so in our capacity to increase the rate of sequestration of C since 1990 to gain C credits. Difficulties in measuring changes in soil C with the confidence and resolution sufficient for reporting C sequestration rates is encouraging IPCC panels to look for industry ‘rules of thumb’ (e.g. devise C changes from regional stock numbers or fertiliser use trends). Prospects may differ substantially in areas of degraded soils with New Zealand’s widespread already C–rich soils; interpretation cf trees could make these soils a major liability. Pasture managers, like policy advisers, face the complexities of the carbon cycle, uncertainty over the extent to which it can realistically be manipulated, and must recognise the difference between sequestering versus maintaining sequestered carbon, within likely Kyoto/ETS rules. Introduction New Zealand is in the unenviable posi

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  • AJ Parsons

  • J.S. Rowarth

  • P.C.D Newton

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