Soil conservation is bridging the gaps between science and agriculture management.
Soil organic matter, or soil carbon, is the organic component of soil.
This can consist of three primary parts that include small fresh plant particles and small living soil organisms, active decomposing organic matter, and stable organic matter, usually bound onto soil minerals.
Soil carbon is generally known to be beneficial for crops and the environment because it helps retain moisture and nutrients.
When organic material is added to soils that have been degraded, productivity increases.
But it’s not clear how much carbon is the optimal amount. Soils also have the ability to act as a filter for water systems, and soils using practices that build carbon–like cover crops–can improve water quality.
Soil scientists need to be able to produce practical recommendations on how soil should be managed, but studies lead to different conclusions based on differences in soil type, crop type, and other properties.
The article first appeared in the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) NCEAS website