Nutrient amendment and carbon sequestration in soil
Soil carbon is important for the sustained function of agro-ecosystems as it influences chemical, biological and physical soil properties and plays a vital role in nutrient cycling.
In general, any cultural practice that increases crop yields, as long as the harvest index and/or grazing intensity (i.e. stocking rate) remains steady, should feedback into the soil system as increased C inputs. However, agricultural intensification practices such as cultivation, irrigation and fertilisation will also stimulate microbial activity leading to increased decomposition rates of soil carbon. The balance between increased carbon input and increased decomposition will dictate the level of carbon sequestration under these management practices.
While improvements to the condition of the many degraded and inherently infertile soils have the potential to contribute to increased carbon levels, intensification of fertile soils can result in the loss of carbon. Overall, the net effect of intensification of farming on soil carbon can be neutral or positive or negative depending on the level of carbon saturation in the soil.
The overall aim of the project is to examine the effect of nutrient inputs on carbon storage in soils. The main focus of the project will be on carbon sequestration in soil using nutrient amendments for minimising environmental issues such as climate change, greenhouse gas emission and soil health degradation. It will also focus on organic and inorganic inputs of carbon and its decomposition which will indicate the net carbon sequestration in soil.