Agronomist checking soil quality on field

Ohio State University Study Examines Soil Organic Carbon-Enhancing Practices

Generating AgMission Solutions

Program Contact

Allison Thomson

Dr. Rattan Lal

The Ohio State University

Year Awarded   2022

FFAR award amount   $5,000,000

Total award amount   $15,000,000

Location   Columbus, OH

Program   AgMission

Matching Funders   Inter-American Insistute for Cooperation on Agriculture, FONTAGRO, Bayer U.S. - Crop Science, Cotton Incorporated, Microsoft, Corteva, Ohio Corn & Wheat, Ohio Soybean Council, Kansas Corn, National Sorghum Producers, United Sorghum Checkoff Program, Utah Department of Agriculture & Food, Kansas State University, Michigan State University, The Ohio State University, Utah State University, Sandia National Laboratories, the U.S. Geological Survey and the USDA Agricultural Research Service

What is the problem this research is tackling?

Current knowledge on carbon farming is primarily based either on simulation modelling or on data from a limited number of field experiments. Additionally, knowledge gaps exist on how projected climate extremes will impact soil organic carbon sequestration, crop productivity, agricultural greenhouse gas  emissions and soil health across diverse landscapes. 

The disruption by climate change is the most urgent challenge to global food systems and agriculture. Enhancing soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks on croplands, grasslands and rangelands is an important strategy that can help mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve land and production system resiliency at the same time. Allison Thomson
AgMission Program Director

Why this research is important

Increasing carbon sequestration on depleted and degraded agricultural lands can help improve our soil and food system while restoring the environment. This project is providing the needed tools and data to help farms across the United States and around the world reach their full potential as a carbon sink. Additionally, this research helps position agriculture as a climate change solution while also advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 


Details about this research

Carbon farming optimizes carbon capture by implementing practices that are known to improve the rate at which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and stored in plant material or soil organic matter.

This study is focusing on field research in specific geographies of the United States: the Midwest, the Plains, the West and the southeastern US. The Ohio State University researchers and collaborating institutions are collecting on-farm data from croplands, grasslands and rangelands. On-farm research offers the opportunity to study the impacts on soil organ carbon from fully implemented systems in terms of scale, adoption of management approaches and constraints faced by farm managers, growers and ranchers.

The resulting output will be anonymized on-farm data from soil organic carbon-enhancing practices using a process that calculates a unique baseline for different geographies. 

This project will generate much needed knowledge on how to strengthen the adoption of soil organic carbon-enhancing practices by farmers and ranchers, and how to increase the recognition of the importance of those practices by the private sector, policy makers and the general public.

How This Research Contributes to Our Mission

FFAR supports pioneering science to provide everyone access to affordable, nutritious food grown on thriving farms. This research provides farmers with key tools and data to mitigate the impacts of climate shocks, benefiting the lives and livelihoods of millions of farmers and consumers globally.

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