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Carbon Sequestration Certification Program


Soil Carbon SequestrationSoil profile with black upper layer

The Conservation Commission is committed to expanding soil carbon sequestration research in Oklahoma. With funding from Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, we have partnered with OSU to measure soil carbon in no-till cropping systems in the North Canadian River watershed between Canton dam and Lake Overholser. Repeat sampling paired with land use information is being examined to estimate the soil carbon sequestration rate of no-till in various soil types in the watershed.

Current sequestration rates

Soil carbon sequestration rates currently used for agriculture offsets are based mostly on modeling with resulting values extrapolated conservatively into regional averages across the U.S. Research currently underway in Oklahoma focuses on direct measurement of total carbon.

What we measure

Total carbon is a measure of organic carbon in the surface of most soils in Oklahoma. However, inorganic carbon in the form of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) can be found in the surface of some of our soils in the western part of the state. OSU has found it in experiments as far east as Woodward and Altus. It is important to test for inorganic carbon (CaCO3) because when present it can cause an erroneously high estimate of organic carbon. OSU's soil carbon samples also measure bulk density. Determining bulk density of the soil is important because it varies depending on soil type. In general, bulk density needs to be measured when looking at the amount of carbon stored per acre in order to have a defendable value.

The goal

The goal of soil carbon research in Oklahoma is to determine sequestration rates of specific agriculture practices in specific soils in as much of Oklahoma as possible. Since carbon offsets are a commodity, soil carbon data specific to the state lends credibility to the value of the offsets, increases buyer confidence, and means potentially higher payments to offset providers.

Image courtesy USDA-NRCS.

Last Modified on 09/09/2010