A recent study has found that agricultural practices that increase surface cover could also increase carbon sequestration. The findings indicate that agricultural practices such as cover cropping and controlled grazing could increase carbon sequestration and combat climate change. Researchers from Rutgers University-New Brunswick and the University of Maine led the study.
The study was conducted to establish the possibility of using New Jersey’s plants and soils to capture and store carbon dioxide. New Jersey’s large farmlands and forests could cumulatively offset 8% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. According to New Jersey’s Global Warming Response Act 80 X 50 Report, the state must use its lands alongside other farming strategies to increase carbon intake and meet carbon targets.
Marjorie Kaplan, co-director of the New Jersey Climate Change Resource Center at Rutgers, says that the study sought to explore carbon sequestration methods. “Our study focused on understanding the current state of knowledge regarding the storage of carbon in agricultural soils, and on identifying the types of programs, barriers and opportunities to further carbon sequestration on ag land, with a particular emphasis on New Jersey,” said Kaplan.
Researchers interviewed over 50 experts in ecosystem valuation programs from over 30 institutions. They also engaged with scholars from top academic institutions. The proposed programs are viable options that target what most locals are already practicing. Other benefits of this approach would include improved soil health, better water quality, flood mitigation and climate resilience.
Stephanie Murphy, a co-author of the study and director of the Rutgers Soil Testing Lab, said, “It is well-documented that loss of soil carbon has been occurring over many decades from certain farming practices, affecting soil health and sustainability, but modifying these practices can address some of the deficit while also using the land as a carbon sink.”
Although the study focused on New Jersey, its results can be applied globally. Many countries have large plots of land and forests that can be managed to help address the climate change problem.
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