Enhancing Soil Organic Carbon

This study, Assessing the Effectiveness of Soil Health Practices in Enhancing Soil Organic Carbon in Maryland, will be conducted by University of Maryland Associate Professor Dr. Gurpal Toor, Colorado State University Professor and Nobel Laureate Dr. Keith Paustian, and UMD Post Doctorate Yun-Ya Yang. It is being funded by the Hughes Center for three years at $400,252.

An ultimate goal of this study is to strengthen the science of measuring and tracking soil carbon. This has been a noted need in soil science recently in order to maintain and optimize soil health to sustain farm productivity and protect the environment.

In Maryland, policy in a 2017 bill defined a need in Maryland to develop local capacity to measure and track organic carbon in soil, as part of a larger promotion of soil health programs and practices.

Investigators of the Hughes Center-funded study will:

(1) collect, collate and analyze existing (but disparate) data on impacts of agricultural management practices on organic carbon storage and soil health;

(2) collect new on-farm measurements and lay the foundation for a long-term soil monitoring/measuring network in Maryland;

(3) test and refine state-of-the-art decision support systems to aid farmers and land management agencies evaluate their best options for increasing organic carbon in soil and soil health; and

(4) provide training and outreach on using these tools to the full range of stakeholders.