Grasslands, which make up 30% of the U.S. land surface, store significant amounts of carbon belowground in roots and soils. Learn how disturbances such as drought, grazing, fire and tillage can significantly impact the grassland carbon balance.
Dr. Rebecca McCulley of the University of Kentucky, Dept. of Plant & Soil Sciences, talks about grasslands and the way they store and process carbon. Grasslands make up about 30 percent of the North American surface. Grasslands differ from forests in many ways, but from a carbon perspective they store a much greater proportion of the carbon than they take in in any given year in belowground components (roots and soil carbon pools). The best way to manage grasslands for carbon is to get the carbon below ground and keep it there. Disturbances such as drought, fire, grazing, and tillage are important in grasslands and can ultimately determine the carbon balance of these systems.
You should gain an understanding of:
- How grasslands differ from forests in carbon storage.
- Methods for maximizing carbon storage in grassland systems (getting carbon into the soil and keeping it there).
- How disturbances such as drought, grazing, fire and tillage can significantly impact the grassland carbon balance.
McCulley, Rebecca L., "Grasslands and Carbon: Processes and Trends" (2012). Plant and Soil Sciences Presentations. 3.