Carbon Sequestration in the Soil

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Videos & Films


Kiss the Ground. “Kiss the Ground” 2020 
This award-winning documentary, narrated by Woody Harrelson, describes the potential of soil to stabilize Earth’s climate, restore ecosystems, and generate a healthy and abundant food system.

Kiss the Ground. “The Compost Story.” 2017 
This spirited 6-minute video explains the importance of compost in building healthy soil. It shows what makes healthy soil, and how recycling food scraps and yard waste closes the carbon cycle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from landfill, and helps farmers build healthier soil that sequesters carbon, holds more water, and grows healthier food.

Kiss the Ground. “The Soil Story.” 2014 
This great 4-minute video explains the carbon cycle in simple terms and how regenerative agriculture can draw down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through plant photosynthesis and then store the carbon in the soil.

Dr. Elaine Ingham. “How is Carbon Stored in the Soil?” 2019 
This 4.5-minute video on soil biology explains the symbiotic relationships between microorganisms and plants, the ecological functions dependent upon these relationships, including photosynthesis and soil carbon sequestration, and solutions to repairing this important web.

Advocacy & Educational NGOs


Marin Carbon Project (MCP) 
MCP is a group of university researchers, county and federal agencies, nonprofits, and the Nicasio-Native Grass Ranch (John Wick) that researches, demonstrates, and implements practices to enhance carbon sequestration in soils on rangeland, agricultural land, and the forest within Marin County. MCP conducts research through UC Berkeley, UC Cooperative Extension, Colorado State University or other partnering universities, and implements practices through the Marin Resource Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.



Judith D. Schwartz. Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012 
The book highlights the pivotal role that soil health plays in Earth’s ecology and economy. The author outlines the multiple benefits derived from planned holistic grazing, including reduced carbon emissions, healthy soils, and improved water cycles, in contrast to the degradation of agricultural land caused by (over)grazing and (under)grazing and the resulting carbon emissions contributing to climate change.

Journal Articles


Chen et al. Plant Diversity Enhances Productivity and Soil Carbon Storage. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 115:16 (April 17, 2018) 
Ecosystem management CAN maintain high levels of plant diversity that can enhance soil carbon storage and other ecosystem services that depend on plant diversity.

Garnett et al. Grazed and Confused? Ruminating on Cattle, Grazing Systems, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, the Soil Carbon Sequestration Question – and What It All Means for Greenhouse Gas Emissions. FCRN (Food Climate Research Network), 2017 
Garnett et al. Grazed and Confused? Ruminating on Cattle, Grazing Systems, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, the Soil Carbon Sequestration Question – and What It All Means for Greenhouse Gas Emissions. FCRN (Food Climate Research Network), 2017. The effect of grazing animals on carbon sequestration is time-limited, reversible, and at the global level, substantially outweighed by the GHG missions they generate.

Carbon Sequestration: A Practical Approach. Institute for Sustainable Agricultural Research. Las Cruces: New Mexico State University, 2011 
NMSU soil scientists detail soil-building and farming techniques that stored 50 tons of carbon per acre in New Mexico’s arid climate and increased the soil’s water-holding capacity by 30 percent. This is a keystone study for claims that carbon sequestration could mitigate or reverse anthropogenic climate change.

Johnson. California Is Turning Farms into Carbon-Sucking Factories. Grist. May 11, 2018 
Oklahoma has been experimenting with soil carbon since 2001, but California’s efforts mark the first major use of farms as state-sponsored carbon-sucking factories—a feat agriculture and climate nerds have long anticipated as scientific evidence has accumulated.

Jordan. “Soil Holds Potential to Slow Global Warming, Stanford Researchers Find.” Stanford News, Oct 5, 2017 
Article includes links to supporting research papers: The ecology of soil carbon: pools, vulnerabilities, and biotic and abiotic controls; and Networking our science to characterize the state, vulnerabilities, and management opportunities of soil organic matter.

Kane. Carbon Sequestration Potential on Agricultural Lands: A Review of Current Science and Available Practices. November 2015 
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Breakthrough Strategies and Solutions.

Lal. Carbon Sequestration. Royal Society. 30 August 2007: 813–830 

Lal. Carbon Sequestration in Soil. CAB Review. 2008;3(30 
Dr. Rattan Lal, Professor of Soil Science, Ohio State University, discusses principal strategies for soil organic carbon sequestration including restoration of degraded / desertified soils through conversion to perennial land use, and adoption of recommended management practices including no-till farming, manuring, agroforestry, and use of biochar as a soil amendment.

Lal. Soil Carbon Sequestration Impacts on Global Food Security and Climate Change. Science. June 11, 2004 (304):1623–1627 
Dr. Rattan Lal, Professor of Soil Science, Ohio State University, outlines soil carbon sequestration as a strategy to achieve food security and offset fossil fuel emissions through improvement in soil quality.

Schwartz. Soil as Carbon Storehouse: New Weapon in Climate Fight? Yale Environment 360. March 4, 2014 
Earth’s soils have lost 50 to 70 percent of their original carbon stock, causing a huge increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Soil scientists find land-restoration programs in places like the North American prairie, the North China plain, and the desert interior of Australia can help put carbon back into the soil. Doing so is vital to offset fossil fuel emissions and to feed the world’s growing human population.

Teague, et al. The Role of Ruminants in Reducing Agriculture’s Carbon Footprint in North America. Research Editorial. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 
Long-term studies of grazing methods in Texas tallgrass prairie show cattle can actually help mitigate climate change.

Velasquez-Manoff. Can Dirt Save the Earth? Agriculture Could Pull Carbon Out of the Air and into the Soil – but It Would Take a Whole New Way of Thinking about How to Tend the Land. New York Times. April 18, 2018 
Excellent overview of soil carbon storage benefits and efforts now underway. “To prevent carbon from causing misery and destruction, perhaps we just need to change its location. Perhaps we can find a way to pull it from the air and restore it to the earth.”

Vermeulen. A Global Agenda for Collective Action on Soil Carbon. Nature Sustainability. January 2019

Watrous. General Mills Getting Serious about Soil Health. Food Business News, March 12, 2018 
General Mills offers new products featuring regenerative agriculture practices.

Zomer et al. Global Sequestration Potential of Increased Organic Carbon in Cropland Soils. Scientific Reports 7:15554 (2017)