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Agricultural Soil Erosion and Carbon Cycle Observations in Iowa: Gaps Threaten Climate Mitigating Policies

Thanos PapanicolaouRecent research by Dr. Thanos Papanicolau was recognized by NASA’s EPSCoR Stimuli in an article entitled Agricultural Soil Erosion and Carbon Cycle Observations in Iowa: Gaps Threaten Climate Mitigating Policies. The research identified conservation practices in the U.S. Midwest that have been found to increase carbon storage potential by nearly 40%. This finding generates a new interest to developing agro-technology that promotes below-ground carbon storage potential. This includes precision agriculture, secondary tillage and the use of multi-functioning agriculture that is the use of cover crops along with commodity crops.

Another finding of the study is the imperative need of using landscape-oriented models to predict soil organic carbon distribution. Past modeling efforts treated carbon fluxes as pseudo-dynamic processes when in reality it is fully dynamic process coupling chemical and physical processes. The last finding of this research is of practical importance for NASA is that this study provided scaled up predictions of the net ecosystem exchange term which is lacking in agricultural settings.

For the full research and models, visit From soilscapes to landscapes: A landscape-oriented approach to simulate soil organic carbon dynamics in intensively managed landscapes.