Measuring, Monitoring, and Verifying Soil Carbon Stocks and Changes in Soil Carbon Stocks for Carbon Markets
Soil carbon (C) sequestration is a scientifically recognized method of reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) to help combat global climate change. Because of the multiple co-benefits of soil C, it is referred to as “charismatic C.” Soil C (organic matter) content is an indicator of soil health, fertility, and ecological functioning. Farmers have tested soils for soil organic matter and C content for many decades as a measure of soil health and to determine fertilizer needs. Numerous scientifically sound methods exist to measure soil C, and a suite of robust, cost-effective technologies are in development. Cost-effective, accurate, rapid means of measuring, monitoring and verifying changes in soil C can prepare the agricultural sector to participate in C markets through the sale of “charismatic C” credits.
Protocols needed for Agricultural Participation in C Markets
A standardized, science-based protocol to measure, monitor, and verify soil carbon content and changes in content is necessary for emerging C markets. A standardized protocol, based on scientifically sound soil sampling techniques, modeling, and remote sensing technologies will establish minimal parameters to verify increases in soil C, providing necessary certainty for C markets. Practice-based estimates of awarding C credits are highly economical, but may not guarantee the level of confidence, per ton of C sequestered, that standardized science-based protocols can ensure.
CASMGS has a proven record of scientific research and results showing the impacts of various management practices on soil C, and on soil C measurement methodologies. CASMGS is uniquely qualified to develop a protocol and to update it as policies, technologies, and C markets as they warrant.
A Nationwide Soil C Network (NSCN)
CASMGS proposes the design and development of a nationwide soil C sampling network based on the USDA National Resources Inventory (NRI). The NSCN will link existing models and point data on soil C, and corroborate and link the data to allow scaling up and scaling down (aggregation and disaggregation). This will allow national inventory data to be linked and corroborated against actual point data at the field and farm level. The NSCN will speed development of accurate, economical soil C measurement methodologies and aid in updates to standardized protocols.
CASMGS’ members have developed, tested and maintain the world’s and the country’s premier tools for measuring, monitoring, and verifying soil C and changes in soil C stocks, and methodologies for state-based assessments of soil C stocks, and C markets.
“Classical” Soil C Measurement Technology
Some Cutting-Edge Technologies for C Measurement and Monitoring