Over the last decade, researchers have sounded the alarm on soil erosion being the biggest threat to global food security. As world governments moved to implement soil conservation practices, a new debate began: does agricultural soil erosion create a net organic carbon (OC) sink or source?
The question is a crucial one, as carbon sinks absorb more carbon than they release, while carbon sources release more carbon than they absorb. Either way, the answer has implications for global land use, soil conservation practices and their link to climate change.
In a new study published today in the European Geosciences Union journal Biogeosciences, two researchers show that the apparent soil organic carbon erosion paradox, i.e., whether agricultural erosion results in an OC sink or source, can be reconciled when we consider the geographical and historical context. The study was the result of a collaboration between UCLouvain, Belgium and ETH Zurich.
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