Managing cropland and rangeland for climate mitigation: an expert elicitation on soil carbon in California

Charlotte Y. Stanton, Katharine J. Mach, Peter A. Turner, Seth J. Lalonde, Daniel L. Sanchez, Christopher B. Field

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Understanding the magnitude of and uncertainty around soil carbon flux (SCF) is important in light of California’s efforts to increase SCF (from the atmosphere to soils) for climate change mitigation. SCF depends, to a great extent, on how soils are managed. Here, we summarize the results of an elicitation of soil science and carbon cycle experts aiming to characterize understanding of current SCF in California’s cropland and rangeland, and how it may respond to alternative management practices over time. We considered four cropland management practices—biochar, compost, cover crops, and no-till—and two rangeland management practices, compost and high-impact grazing. Results across all management practices reveal underlying uncertainties as well as very modest opportunities for soil carbon management to contribute meaningfully to California’s climate mitigation. Under median scenarios, experts expect all the surveyed management practices to reverse SCF from negative to positive, with direct carbon additions via biochar and compost offering the best potential for boosting the soil carbon pool.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)633-646
Number of pages14
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science


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