Managing semi-arid woodlands for carbon storage: Grazing and shrub effects on above- and belowground carbon

Stefani Daryanto, David J. Eldridge, Heather Throop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Shrub cover has increased in semi-arid regions worldwide. This change has generally been viewed as land degradation, due to shrub-induced declines in pastoral productivity. As a consequence, widespread management treatments to reduce shrub density have been applied in many pastoral areas. These treatments, however, often do not have long-term positive benefits for forage production. Alternative uses for shrub-encroached lands have received little consideration, but a recent move towards economic incentives for carbon (C) storage could lead to financially viable alternative land management strategies. We examined changes in above- and belowground C storage following 20 years of factorial land management treatments (grazing/no grazing and shrub removal/no removal) in an Australian semi-arid woodland. Disturbance by shrub removal (root ploughing) and/or livestock grazing significantly reduced the amount of soil organic carbon (SOC). The most disturbed treatment (grazed and ploughed) contained the least SOC (15.30MgCha-1) while protection from grazing and shrub removal led to the greatest SOC (28.49MgCha-1). Declines in SOC in shrub removal treatments (with and without grazing) were compensated, in part, by enhanced aboveground C accumulation, derived mainly from woody plants. Destocking currently grazed shrublands for two decades resulted in a net C accretion, over 20 years, in the order of 6.5Mgha-1, almost entirely through increasing belowground C. At the current price for C in Australia, the economic benefit for C accumulation from removing livestock grazing would be similar to the economic benefit of grazing. The results suggest that C farming in this semi-arid woodland system may offer an economically viable alternative management strategy to grazing, although uncertainties in future climate, C credit value, and assessment protocols present hurdles for implementing alternative management aimed at C farming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Volume169
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

carbon sequestration
woodlands
woodland
shrub
shrubs
grazing
carbon
soil organic carbon
organic carbon
land management
livestock
soil
farming systems
economics
economic incentives
land degradation
effect
forage production
credit
plowing

Keywords

  • Carbon farming
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Dryland
  • Grazing
  • Shrub removal
  • Shrubland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology

Cite this

Managing semi-arid woodlands for carbon storage : Grazing and shrub effects on above- and belowground carbon. / Daryanto, Stefani; Eldridge, David J.; Throop, Heather.

In: Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, Vol. 169, 01.04.2013, p. 1-11.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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