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National estimation of soil organic carbon storage potential for arable soils: A data-driven approach coupled with carbon-landscape zones

Abstract : Soil organic carbon (SOC) is important for its contributions to agricultural production, food security, and ecosystem services. Increasing SOC stocks can contribute to mitigate climate change by transferring atmospheric CO2 into long-lived soil carbon pools. The launch of the 4 per 1000 initiative has resulted in an increased interest in developing methods to quantity the additional SOC that can be stored in soil under different management options. In this work, we have made a first attempt to estimate SOC storage potential of arable soils using a data-driven approach based on the French National Soil Monitoring Network. The data-driven approach was used to determine the maximum SOC stocks of arable soils for France. We first defined different carbon-landscape zones (CLZs) using clustering analysis. We then computed estimates of the highest possible values using percentile of 0.8, 0.85, 0.9 and 0.95 of the measured SOC stocks within these CLZs. The SOC storage potential was calculated as the difference between the maximum SOC stocks and current SOC stocks for topsoil and subsoil. The percentile used to determine highest possible SOC had a large influence on the estimates of French national SOC storage potential. When the percentile increased from 0.8 to 0.95, the national SOC storage potential increased by two to three-fold, from 336 to 1020 Mt for topsoil and from 165 to 433 Mt for subsoil, suggesting a high sensitivity of this approach to the selected percentile. Nevertheless, we argue that this approach can offer advantages from an operational point of view, as it enables to set targets of SOC storage taking into account both policy makers' and farmers' considerations about their feasibility. Robustness of the estimates should be further assessed using complementary approaches such as mechanistic modelling.
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Songchao Chen, Dominique Arrouays, Denis Angers, Claire Chenu, Pierre Barré, et al.. National estimation of soil organic carbon storage potential for arable soils: A data-driven approach coupled with carbon-landscape zones. Science of the Total Environment, Elsevier, 2019, 666, pp.355-367. ⟨10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.02.249⟩. ⟨hal-02051584⟩

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