Assessing a suite of indicators to predict soil carbon trajectories in agricultural systems 

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Dr. Sprunger as a grad student, with Sarah Foley, soil sampling a KBS LTER early successional field. Photo from KBS LTER Photo Gallery

This study seeks to evaluate commonly measured SOC pools as potential indicators of soil C trajectories, using existing data and archived soil from the Long Term Agroecosystem Research (LTAR) and Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) networks and is supported by the Environmental Defense Fund. In collaboration with various LTAR and LTER sites across the country, we will use archived soil samples dating back to the 1980s to assess which soil C indicators are most responsive to variations in agricultural management across different soil types. We’ll also determine which specific indicators are more effective at detecting early changes in SOC versus reliably predicting changes that may take decades to detect.  This project has important implications for assessing soil carbon sequestration potential across a wide range of agroecosystems and will inform stakeholders on best practices regarding soil C quantification and monitoring for soil carbon credits.