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Soil Carbon, Organic Matter, and Health: Myths, Metrics, and Management

September 29 @ 9:00 am 10:15 am

Man planting seeds.

Soil carbon (C) is recognized as a critical element in the function and productivity of agricultural soils.  Soil organic matter (SOM), primarily made of C (55-60%), is used interchangeably in discussions of soil C; no matter the label, SOM and soil C provide a wide array of benefits to the pedosphere which include: nutrients for plants and soil microorganisms, aggregation of soil particles, water infiltration, and protection from soil erosion. Because of these benefits, SOM and soil C receive much attention in soil health and climate change discussions, with the latter primarily focused on carbon sequestration and storage. However, recent shifts in scientific understanding have upended some of the previous thoughts and theories on soil C and SOM.  This talk will provide some clarity by defining what soil C (and SOM) is, what information newer measures are providing us and, how this information can inform management strategies and ultimately improve soil health.