Soil Carbon Sequestration in Conservation Agriculture: A Framework for Valuing Soil Carbon as a Critical Ecosystem Service

Conservation agricultural systems sequester carbon from the atmosphere into long-lived soil organic matter pools – while promoting a healthy environment and enhancing economically sustainable production conditions for farmers throughout the world. Soil organic carbon is fundamental to the development of soil quality and sustainable food production systems. Soil, soil organic carbon, and soil quality are the foundations of human inhabitation of our Earth. We must enhance the ability of soil to sustain our lives by improving soil organic carbon.

Conservation agricultural systems have been successfully developed for many different regions of the world. These systems, however, have not been widely adopted by farmers for political, social and cultural reasons. Through greater adoption of conservation agricultural systems, there is enormous potential to sequester soil organic carbon, which would:

(1) help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions contributing to global warming and

(2) increase soil productivity and avoid further environmental damage from the unsustainable use of inversion tillage systems, which threaten water quality, reduce soil biodiversity, and erode soil around the world.

Download the Report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations