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How much Carbon can soil sequester?

The amount of carbon that can be sequestered in soil depends on various factors. These include soil type, climate, land use, and management practices. In general, soils can sequester significant amounts of carbon, particularly if they are managed to enhance carbon storage.

Currently, it is not possible to estimate the exact amount of carbon that a given parcel of soil can sequester. The currently approved Australian soil carbon measurement method credits accrual to one metre depth. As an example, if your current soil profile demonstrates that carbon has accrued in the top 10 centimetres, then there is a further 90cm of soil depth that can be used to sequester carbon and earn carbon credit income.

A recent report by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) outlines the potential for carbon sequestration in Australia across practices including permanent plantings, soil carbon and geological storage. 

According to some research around the world, agricultural soils have the potential to sequester between 0.4 and 1.2 tons of carbon per hectare per year. Furthermore, already degraded soils can sequester even higher amounts. Practices such as conservation agriculture, cover cropping, reduced tillage, and agroforestry can increase carbon sequestration rates in soil.

The exact amount of carbon that can be sequestered in soil will vary depending on the specific conditions and management practices used. However, it is clear that there is significant potential for sequestering carbon in soil through various land management practices. Furthermore, soil has the potential to be a critical tool in the fight against climate change.

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