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SOIL, 4, 101-122, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-4-101-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Review article
15 May 2018
Proximal sensing for soil carbon accounting
Jacqueline R. England1 and Raphael A. Viscarra Rossel2 1CSIRO Land and Water, Private Bag 10, Clayton South, VIC 3169, Australia
2CSIRO Land and Water, Bruce E. Butler Laboratory, P.O. Box 1700, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
Abstract. Maintaining or increasing soil organic carbon (C) is vital for securing food production and for mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, climate change, and land degradation. Some land management practices in cropping, grazing, horticultural, and mixed farming systems can be used to increase organic C in soil, but to assess their effectiveness, we need accurate and cost-efficient methods for measuring and monitoring the change. To determine the stock of organic C in soil, one requires measurements of soil organic C concentration, bulk density, and gravel content, but using conventional laboratory-based analytical methods is expensive. Our aim here is to review the current state of proximal sensing for the development of new soil C accounting methods for emissions reporting and in emissions reduction schemes. We evaluated sensing techniques in terms of their rapidity, cost, accuracy, safety, readiness, and their state of development. The most suitable method for measuring soil organic C concentrations appears to be visible–near-infrared (vis–NIR) spectroscopy and, for bulk density, active gamma-ray attenuation. Sensors for measuring gravel have not been developed, but an interim solution with rapid wet sieving and automated measurement appears useful. Field-deployable, multi-sensor systems are needed for cost-efficient soil C accounting. Proximal sensing can be used for soil organic C accounting, but the methods need to be standardized and procedural guidelines need to be developed to ensure proficient measurement and accurate reporting and verification. These are particularly important if the schemes use financial incentives for landholders to adopt management practices to sequester soil organic C. We list and discuss requirements for developing new soil C accounting methods based on proximal sensing, including requirements for recording, verification, and auditing.
Citation: England, J. R. and Viscarra Rossel, R. A.: Proximal sensing for soil carbon accounting, SOIL, 4, 101-122, https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-4-101-2018, 2018.
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Short summary
Proximal sensing can be used for soil C accounting, but the methods need to be standardized and procedural guidelines developed to ensure proficient measurement and accurate reporting. This is particularly important if there are financial incentives for landholders to adopt practices to sequester C. We review sensing for C accounting and discuss the requirements for the development of new soil C accounting methods based on sensing, including requirements for reporting, auditing and verification.
Proximal sensing can be used for soil C accounting, but the methods need to be standardized and...
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