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Payback time for soil carbon from pasture conversion to sugarcane production
Date:7/3/2014

The reduction of soil carbon stock caused by the conversion of pasture areas into sugarcane plantations a very common change in Brazil in recent years may be offset within two or three years of cultivation.

The calculation appears in a study conducted by researchers at the Center for Nuclear Energy in Agriculture (CENA) of the University of So Paulo (USP) in collaboration with colleagues from the Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture (Esalq), also at USP. The study also included researchers from the Federal Institute of Alagoas (IFAL), the Brazilian Bioethanol Science and Technology Laboratory, the Institut de Recherche pour le Dveloppement in France and Harvard University, Colorado State University and the Shell Technology Center Houston in the United States.

Findings from the project "Soil carbon stocks on land-use change process to sugarcane production in South-Central Brazil," carried out with funding from FAPESP, were described in an article published in the online version of the journal Nature Climate Change.

"The study indicates that the soil carbon balance of pasture areas converted for the cultivation of sugarcane designed for ethanol production is not as negative as originally estimated," said Carlos Clemente Cerri, project coordinator and researcher at CENA.

According to Cerri, soil from pasture areas has a carbon stock whose volume varies only slightly over the years. However, the process of preparing this type of soil for conversion to sugarcane plantations causes part of the carbon stock to be emitted into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2).

In contrast, depending on the type of management, the introduction of sugarcane to pasture areas could compensate for, or even add to, the initial soil carbon stock when the organic matter and plant residue penetrate the ground.

Moreover, the ethanol produced from sugarcane grown in these areas over time ultimately offsets the CO2'/>"/>

Contact: Samuel Antenor
samuel@fapesp.br
55-113-838-4381
Fundao de Amparo Pesquisa do Estado de So Paulo
Source:Eurekalert

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