This commentary argues that there is scientific consensus on the need to build soil organic carbon because of benefits such as resistance to soil erosion, higher fertility and resilience to drought. The authors note that these benefits of building soil carbon are being obscured by high-profile disagreements on the separate question of whether or not building soil carbon may help to mitigate climate change.
The commentary reviews areas of both agreement and disagreement in soil science, and concludes that the scientific basis for building soil carbon for reasons other than climate mitigation needs to be communicated clearly.
Soil-based initiatives to mitigate climate change and restore soil fertility both rely on rebuilding soil organic carbon. Controversy about the role soils might play in climate change mitigation is, consequently, undermining actions to restore soils for improved agricultural and environmental outcomes.
Bradford, M.A., Carey, C.J., Atwood, L., Bossio, D., Fenichel, E.P., Gennet, S., Fargione, J., Fisher, J.R., Fuller, E., Kane, D.A. and Lehmann, J., 2019. Soil carbon science for policy and practice. Nature Sustainability, pp.1-3.
Read the full paper here. See also the Foodsource resource Food systems and contributions to other environmental problems and the FCRN report Grazed and Confused?