We investigate the ecosystem services of carbon sequestration, forage production and groundwater recharge associated with increasing the organic matter content of soils across California’s working lands. Results indicate that a one-time ¼” application of compost to rangelands can lead to carbon sequestration rates in soils that are maximized after approximately 15 years, and more than offset greenhouse gases emitted by the compost addition for at least five decades longer. Modeled increases in total soil organic matter of 3% enhanced hydrologic benefits across 97% of working lands. Economic valuation indicated all benefits increasing over time, also demonstrating a large potential for the California carbon market to support incentives in regionalizing the impacts in the coming decades. Results can be effectively used with land use change scenarios to identify where on California’s working lands hydrologic and bio-geochemical benefits of soil organic matter enhancement coincide with development risk, highlighting counties in California that may be good targets for strategic soil management and land conservation.
- Frank Casey, Ph.D, Ecosystem Services Theme Leader, U.S. Geological Survey