Policy ForumEcology

Managing Soil Carbon

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Science  16 Apr 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5669, pp. 393
DOI: 10.1126/science.1093079

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Current farming practices deplete soil carbon, which degrades soil quality, reduces productivity, and results in the need for more fertilization, irrigation, and pesticides. No-till farming with residue mulching would reverse these effects by slowing soil erosion and pollution runoff, benefiting aquatic ecosystems, improving agronomic productivity, and achieving food security. The authors of this Policy Forum urge support for its wider use. Although there may be short-term yield reductions in some soils and climates, this is a win-win opportunity for the vast majority of the 95% of the cropland that does not use these more sustainable practices.