Characterising the biophysical, economic and social impacts of soil carbon sequestration as a greenhouse gas removal technology

AJ Sykes*, M MacLeod, V Eory, RM Rees, FP Payen, VM Myrgiotis, Matthew Williams, Saran Sohi, Jon Hillier, Dominic Moran, David Manning, Pietro Goglio, Michele Seghetta, Adrian G Williams, Jim Harris, Marta Dondini, Jack Walton, Joanna House, Pete Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

To limit warming to well below 2°C, most scenario projections rely on greenhouse gas removal technologies (GGRTs); one such GGRT uses soil carbon sequestration (SCS) in agricultural land. In addition to their role in mitigating climate change, SCS practices play a role in delivering agroecosystem resilience, climate change adaptability and food security. Environmental heterogeneity and differences in agricultural practices challenge the practical implementation of SCS, and our analysis addresses the associated knowledge gap. Previous assessments have focused on global potentials, but there is a need among policymakers to operationalise SCS. Here, we assess a range of practices already proposed to deliver SCS, and distil these into a subset of specific measures. We provide a multidisciplinary summary of the barriers and potential incentives towards practical implementation of these measures. First, we identify specific practices with potential for both a positive impact on SCS at farm level and an uptake rate compatible with global impact. These focus on: (a) optimising crop primary productivity (e.g. nutrient optimisation, pH management, irrigation); (b) reducing soil disturbance and managing soil physical properties (e.g. improved rotations, minimum till); (c) minimising deliberate removal of C or lateral transport via erosion processes (e.g. support measures, bare fallow reduction); (d) addition of C produced outside the system (e.g. organic manure amendments, biochar addition); (e) provision of additional C inputs within the cropping system (e.g. agroforestry, cover cropping). We then consider economic and non-cost barriers and incentives for land managers implementing these measures, along with the potential externalised impacts of implementation. This offers a framework and reference point for holistic assessment of the impacts of SCS. Finally, we summarise and discuss the ability of extant scientific approaches to quantify the technical potential and externalities of SCS measures, and the barriers and incentives to their implementation in global agricultural systems.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Early online date18 Sep 2019
DOIs
Publication statusFirst published - 18 Sep 2019

Fingerprint

Carbon Sequestration
social impact
greenhouse gases
economic impact
Social Change
soil carbon
Greenhouse gases
carbon sequestration
greenhouse gas
Soil
Carbon
Gases
Economics
Technology
Soils
incentive
Motivation
Climate Change
cropping practice
Climate change

Bibliographical note

© 2019 The Authors. Global Change Biology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords

  • Soil organic carbon
  • Sequestration
  • Greenhouse gas removal
  • Negative emissions
  • Four per mille
  • Agriculture

Cite this

Sykes, AJ ; MacLeod, M ; Eory, V ; Rees, RM ; Payen, FP ; Myrgiotis, VM ; Williams, Matthew ; Sohi, Saran ; Hillier, Jon ; Moran, Dominic ; Manning, David ; Goglio, Pietro ; Seghetta, Michele ; Williams, Adrian G ; Harris, Jim ; Dondini, Marta ; Walton, Jack ; House, Joanna ; Smith, Pete. / Characterising the biophysical, economic and social impacts of soil carbon sequestration as a greenhouse gas removal technology. In: Global Change Biology. 2019.
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abstract = "To limit warming to well below 2°C, most scenario projections rely on greenhouse gas removal technologies (GGRTs); one such GGRT uses soil carbon sequestration (SCS) in agricultural land. In addition to their role in mitigating climate change, SCS practices play a role in delivering agroecosystem resilience, climate change adaptability and food security. Environmental heterogeneity and differences in agricultural practices challenge the practical implementation of SCS, and our analysis addresses the associated knowledge gap. Previous assessments have focused on global potentials, but there is a need among policymakers to operationalise SCS. Here, we assess a range of practices already proposed to deliver SCS, and distil these into a subset of specific measures. We provide a multidisciplinary summary of the barriers and potential incentives towards practical implementation of these measures. First, we identify specific practices with potential for both a positive impact on SCS at farm level and an uptake rate compatible with global impact. These focus on: (a) optimising crop primary productivity (e.g. nutrient optimisation, pH management, irrigation); (b) reducing soil disturbance and managing soil physical properties (e.g. improved rotations, minimum till); (c) minimising deliberate removal of C or lateral transport via erosion processes (e.g. support measures, bare fallow reduction); (d) addition of C produced outside the system (e.g. organic manure amendments, biochar addition); (e) provision of additional C inputs within the cropping system (e.g. agroforestry, cover cropping). We then consider economic and non-cost barriers and incentives for land managers implementing these measures, along with the potential externalised impacts of implementation. This offers a framework and reference point for holistic assessment of the impacts of SCS. Finally, we summarise and discuss the ability of extant scientific approaches to quantify the technical potential and externalities of SCS measures, and the barriers and incentives to their implementation in global agricultural systems.",
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author = "AJ Sykes and M MacLeod and V Eory and RM Rees and FP Payen and VM Myrgiotis and Matthew Williams and Saran Sohi and Jon Hillier and Dominic Moran and David Manning and Pietro Goglio and Michele Seghetta and Williams, {Adrian G} and Jim Harris and Marta Dondini and Jack Walton and Joanna House and Pete Smith",
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Sykes, AJ, MacLeod, M, Eory, V, Rees, RM, Payen, FP, Myrgiotis, VM, Williams, M, Sohi, S, Hillier, J, Moran, D, Manning, D, Goglio, P, Seghetta, M, Williams, AG, Harris, J, Dondini, M, Walton, J, House, J & Smith, P 2019, 'Characterising the biophysical, economic and social impacts of soil carbon sequestration as a greenhouse gas removal technology', Global Change Biology. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14844

Characterising the biophysical, economic and social impacts of soil carbon sequestration as a greenhouse gas removal technology. / Sykes, AJ; MacLeod, M; Eory, V; Rees, RM; Payen, FP; Myrgiotis, VM; Williams, Matthew; Sohi, Saran; Hillier, Jon; Moran, Dominic; Manning, David; Goglio, Pietro; Seghetta, Michele; Williams, Adrian G; Harris, Jim; Dondini, Marta; Walton, Jack; House, Joanna; Smith, Pete.

In: Global Change Biology, 18.09.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

TY - JOUR

T1 - Characterising the biophysical, economic and social impacts of soil carbon sequestration as a greenhouse gas removal technology

AU - Sykes, AJ

AU - MacLeod, M

AU - Eory, V

AU - Rees, RM

AU - Payen, FP

AU - Myrgiotis, VM

AU - Williams, Matthew

AU - Sohi, Saran

AU - Hillier, Jon

AU - Moran, Dominic

AU - Manning, David

AU - Goglio, Pietro

AU - Seghetta, Michele

AU - Williams, Adrian G

AU - Harris, Jim

AU - Dondini, Marta

AU - Walton, Jack

AU - House, Joanna

AU - Smith, Pete

N1 - © 2019 The Authors. Global Change Biology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

PY - 2019/9/18

Y1 - 2019/9/18

N2 - To limit warming to well below 2°C, most scenario projections rely on greenhouse gas removal technologies (GGRTs); one such GGRT uses soil carbon sequestration (SCS) in agricultural land. In addition to their role in mitigating climate change, SCS practices play a role in delivering agroecosystem resilience, climate change adaptability and food security. Environmental heterogeneity and differences in agricultural practices challenge the practical implementation of SCS, and our analysis addresses the associated knowledge gap. Previous assessments have focused on global potentials, but there is a need among policymakers to operationalise SCS. Here, we assess a range of practices already proposed to deliver SCS, and distil these into a subset of specific measures. We provide a multidisciplinary summary of the barriers and potential incentives towards practical implementation of these measures. First, we identify specific practices with potential for both a positive impact on SCS at farm level and an uptake rate compatible with global impact. These focus on: (a) optimising crop primary productivity (e.g. nutrient optimisation, pH management, irrigation); (b) reducing soil disturbance and managing soil physical properties (e.g. improved rotations, minimum till); (c) minimising deliberate removal of C or lateral transport via erosion processes (e.g. support measures, bare fallow reduction); (d) addition of C produced outside the system (e.g. organic manure amendments, biochar addition); (e) provision of additional C inputs within the cropping system (e.g. agroforestry, cover cropping). We then consider economic and non-cost barriers and incentives for land managers implementing these measures, along with the potential externalised impacts of implementation. This offers a framework and reference point for holistic assessment of the impacts of SCS. Finally, we summarise and discuss the ability of extant scientific approaches to quantify the technical potential and externalities of SCS measures, and the barriers and incentives to their implementation in global agricultural systems.

AB - To limit warming to well below 2°C, most scenario projections rely on greenhouse gas removal technologies (GGRTs); one such GGRT uses soil carbon sequestration (SCS) in agricultural land. In addition to their role in mitigating climate change, SCS practices play a role in delivering agroecosystem resilience, climate change adaptability and food security. Environmental heterogeneity and differences in agricultural practices challenge the practical implementation of SCS, and our analysis addresses the associated knowledge gap. Previous assessments have focused on global potentials, but there is a need among policymakers to operationalise SCS. Here, we assess a range of practices already proposed to deliver SCS, and distil these into a subset of specific measures. We provide a multidisciplinary summary of the barriers and potential incentives towards practical implementation of these measures. First, we identify specific practices with potential for both a positive impact on SCS at farm level and an uptake rate compatible with global impact. These focus on: (a) optimising crop primary productivity (e.g. nutrient optimisation, pH management, irrigation); (b) reducing soil disturbance and managing soil physical properties (e.g. improved rotations, minimum till); (c) minimising deliberate removal of C or lateral transport via erosion processes (e.g. support measures, bare fallow reduction); (d) addition of C produced outside the system (e.g. organic manure amendments, biochar addition); (e) provision of additional C inputs within the cropping system (e.g. agroforestry, cover cropping). We then consider economic and non-cost barriers and incentives for land managers implementing these measures, along with the potential externalised impacts of implementation. This offers a framework and reference point for holistic assessment of the impacts of SCS. Finally, we summarise and discuss the ability of extant scientific approaches to quantify the technical potential and externalities of SCS measures, and the barriers and incentives to their implementation in global agricultural systems.

KW - Soil organic carbon

KW - Sequestration

KW - Greenhouse gas removal

KW - Negative emissions

KW - Four per mille

KW - Agriculture

U2 - 10.1111/gcb.14844

DO - 10.1111/gcb.14844

M3 - Review article

C2 - 31532049

JO - Global Change Biology

JF - Global Change Biology

SN - 1354-1013

ER -