With the recent interest in the potential for agriculture to capture atmospheric CO2 , through the accumulation of soil carbon, measurements in this area have been viewed as increasingly important. Promoting soil health and encouraging the development of soil organic matter have always been central tenets of the organic approach, and the potential contribution of organic systems to this area has been of considerable interest.
Practices that have been shown to increase soil organic matter, such as the use of organic fertilisers, fertility building leys with legumes and cover crops are commonly found on organic farms and a range of long-term field trials have found higher organic matter contents in organically managed soils. In addition to storing carbon, higher levels of soil organic matter can enhance the nutrient buffering capacity, water holding capacity and microbial activity within soils and help to increase the soil’s fertility.
This presentation will provide an overview of the current evidence in this area highlighting the potential role of organic practices for the maintenance of soil carbon and soil health.