Soil carbon dynamics and potential carbon sequestration by rangelands

Environ Pollut. 2002;116(3):391-6. doi: 10.1016/s0269-7491(01)00215-9.


The USA has about 336 Mha of grazing lands of which rangelands account for 48%. Changes in rangeland soil C can occur in response to a wide range of management and environmental factors. Grazing, fire, and fertilization have been shown to affect soil C storage in rangelands, as has converting marginal croplands into grasslands. Carbon losses due to soil erosion can influence soil C storage on rangelands both by reducing soil productivity in source areas and potentially increasing it in depositional areas, and by redistributing the C to areas where soil organic matter mineralization rates are different. Proper grazing management has been estimated to increase soil C storage on US rangelands from 0.1 to 0.3 Mg C ha(-1)year(-1) and new grasslands have been shown to store as much as 0.6 Mg C ha(-1)year(-1). Grazing lands are estimated to contain 10-30% of the world's soil organic carbon. Given the size of the C pool in grazing lands we need to better understand the current and potential effects of management on soil C storage.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic
  • Carbon / analysis
  • Carbon / chemistry
  • Carbon / metabolism*
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Fires
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Poaceae / physiology*
  • Soil*


  • Organic Chemicals
  • Soil
  • Carbon