Komatsuzaki, M. and H. Ohta
This paper addresses the importance of soil organic carbon (SOC) for agro-ecosystems and GHG uptake and emission in agriculture, especially SOC changes associated with soil management. Soil management strategies have great potential to contribute to carbon sequestration, since the carbon sink capacity of the world’s agricultural and degraded soil is 50–66% of the historic carbon loss of 42–72 Pg (1 Pg=1015 g), although the actual carbon storage in cultivated soil may be smaller if climate changes lead to increasing mineralization. Since increasing SOC may also be able to mitigate some local environmental problems, it will be necessary to have integrated soil management practices that are compatible with increasing SOM management and controlling soil residual nutrients. Cover crops would be a critical tool for sustainable soil management because they can scavenge soil residual nitrogen and their ecological functions can be utilized to establish an optimal nitrogen cycle. In addition to developing soil management strategies for sustainable agro-ecosystems, some political and social approaches will be needed, based on a common understanding that soil and agro-ecosystems are essential for a sustainable society.