Soil carbon sequestration through regenerative agriculture in the U.S. state of Vermont

Byrne, Ken and Wiltshire, Serge and Beckage, Brian (2022) Soil carbon sequestration through regenerative agriculture in the U.S. state of Vermont. PLOS Climate, 1 (4). e0000021. ISSN 2767-3200

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This study investigates the extent to which land use and management transitions on Vermont’s farmland could sequester atmospheric carbon in the soil. We weigh the sequestration potential of several types of regenerative agricultural practices against both business as usual and afforestation scenarios using the Rothamsted Carbon Model. We split the study area into 13 Ecoregions for a finer spatial scale of analysis, with key climate, soil, and land use data specified for each. Empirical soil laboratory data are used to initialize the model to mirror current conditions under each of three agricultural land uses (crops, hay, and pasture) in each Ecoregion. We consult experts as well as the literature to parameterize the anticipated effects of alternative agricultural management practices on soil carbon inputs. In the simulation runs, we find that all non-business-as-usual scenarios sequester carbon over time, with a higher rate of sequestration in the decades immediately after a land use or management change. Among the regenerative agriculture scenarios, conversion to rotational grazing offers the highest soil carbon sequestration potential, at 1,269 kt, or 5.3% above current stocks after ten years. Of all scenarios, afforestation of farmland to non-harvested forest stores the most soil carbon, increasing stocks by 6.5% after ten years, and continuing to sequester at a high rate many decades into the future. We discuss tradeoffs and policy implications, especially in the context of the 2020 Vermont Global Warming Solutions Act, and suggest that payments for ecosystem services for farmers sequestering carbon may have strategic value.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Depositing User: APLOS Library
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2022 07:21
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2022 07:21

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