Soil is a natural sink for carbon, meaning that it can absorb and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The amount of carbon that can be stored in soil depends on a number of factors, including the type of soil, the climate, and the type of vegetation growing in the soil.
On average, soils can store approximately 2,500 to 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per acre. However, some types of soil, such as peat soils and organic soils, have a much higher capacity for carbon storage. In these soils, it is possible to store much larger amounts of carbon, up to 10,000 pounds or more per acre.
Sandy soils have a low organic matter content and a high drainage rate, which can limit their capacity for carbon storage. Sandy soils may store 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per acre. Clay soils have a high organic matter content and a low drainage rate, which can make them more effective at storing carbon. Clay soils may store 2,500 to 3,500 pounds of carbon dioxide per acre. Organic soils, also known as histosols, are soils that have a high organic matter content. Organic soils can store large amounts of carbon, up to 5,000 to 7,000 pounds per acre. Peat soils are formed from partially decomposed plant material, and are found in wetland areas such as bogs and swamps. Peat soils have a high capacity for carbon storage, and can hold up to 10,000 pounds or more of carbon dioxide per acre.
In addition to storing carbon, soil can also play a role in mitigating climate change by acting as a sink for other greenhouse gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide. Soil can also help to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by serving as a source of organic matter, which can be used as a fuel or to produce bioproducts.
There are a number of ways to increase the carbon storage capacity of soil, including through the use of conservation tillage practices, cover cropping, and the use of organic amendments, such as compost. These practices can help to improve soil health, increase the amount of organic matter in the soil, and enhance the soil’s ability to store carbon. When these methods are utilized and certified, it can lead to an increase in carbon credits as well.