Increasing soil carbon sequestration and preventing land-use change

Fertilizers play two essential roles in the fight against climate change: First, they forestall deforestation, as they allow for increased productivity on arable land. They help maintain the integrity of the globe’s forests, which are important carbon sinks.

Second, they also increase the carbon sequestration potential of agricultural soils by contributing to their building up of soil organic matter (SOM). SOM importantly facilitates higher nutrient uptake by plants, and increased plant growth absorbs more CO2 from the atmosphere. Almost 90 percent of agriculture’s future mitigation potential is based on soil carbon sequestration. Carbon sequestration in cultivated soils can be increased by adding appropriate organic and mineral nutrients for biomass production, as well as by reducing tillage, and using cover crops.

In order to maximize carbon sequestration in soil organic matter, the fertilizer industry advocates for the integrated use of available plant nutrients (organic and inorganic) to improve crop and biomass production.

Read more on this topic:

Fertiliser use and soil carbon sequestration: trade-offs and opportunities

Working Paper No. 264
CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change,
Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)
Renske Hijbeek
Marloes van Loon
Martin van Ittersum

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Plant Nutrients and Soil Carbon Sequestration & CO2 Emissions Benchmark

Submission of the International Fertilizer Association to Koronivia item 2.c.
Improved soil carbon, soil health and soil fertility under grassland and cropland as well as integrated
systems, including water management.

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How Fertilizers Help Protect and Capture Soil Organic Carbon

Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) found in the living matter in soils acts as a sink that traps and stores CO2 – a major contributor to global warming.
Soils represent the largest terrestrial pool of carbon: each hectare can store up to 50 - 300 tonnes of carbon1, which is equivalent to 180 - 1,100 tons of CO2.
By increasing crop yields and productivity on available arable land, fertilizers help protect carbon-rich forests, peatlands, wetlands and grasslands by minimizing land use changes.

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IFA Publications

Estimating & Reporting Fertilizer-Related Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Accounting for Mitigation of N-fertiliser Emissions at National and Project Scales
Submission to the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture
Fertilizers and low emission development in sub-Saharan Africa
The Role of Fertilizers in Climate Smart Agriculture