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Science in action to improve the sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and food systems
Learn More Program Areas

Carbon Sequestration

While most sectors of the economy can only be sources of greenhouse gases, the agriculture and forestry sectors both have the opportunity to act as a sink for greenhouse gases. They can do this by increasing the amount of carbon stored in soils (and for forestry, in long-lived biomass).  Globally, 3 times more carbon is stored in soils than in the atmosphere.  Strategies for increasing carbon storage in agricultural soils include increasing crop intensity or residues, adding carbon amendments (e.g. manures, biosolids, or other), reducing tillage, and growing perennial crops.

Featured Publications

Carbon Sequestration Potential in Cropland Soils in the Pacific Northwest: Knowledge and Gaps

Yorgey, G.G., S.A. Hall, K.M. Hills, C.E. Kruger, and C.O. Stöckle. Undergoing peer review as a Pacific Northwest Extension Publication, Washington State University, Pullman, WA.

Assessment of the Local Technical Potential for CO2 Drawdown using Biochar from Forestry Residues and Waste Wood in 26 Counties of Washington State

Amonette, J.E. 2019. A technical report completed as part of the Waste to Fuels Technology Partnership. 174 pp.

Farmer-to-Farmer & Rancher-to-Rancher Case Studies Series

Authors include: Yorgey, G., Borrelli, K., Painter, K., Davis, H., Hall, S., Hudson, T., Neibergs, S., Reeves, M., Kruger, C., McGuire A., Finkelnburg, D., Roe, D., Brooks, E., and Kantor, S. 2016-2019. PNW Extension Publications and videos. These series explore strategies that innovative regional farmers and ranchers are using that enhance resilience to climate change and other future challenges. Case studies highlight producers in dryland and irrigated annual cropping, rangeland, and dairy production systems. Practices relate to soil health, diversification, responsive management, and many others.

Advances in Dryland Farming in the Inland Pacific Northwest

Georgine Yorgey and Chad Kruger, Eds. 2017. Washington State University Extension. Pullman, WA.

Site-Specific Trade-offs of Harvesting Cereal Residues as Biofuel Feedstocks in Dryland Annual Cropping Systems of the Pacific Northwest, USA

Huggins, D.R., C.E. Kruger, K.M. Painter, D.P. Uberuaga. BioEnergy Research. June 2014, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 598-608.

Life cycle assessment of the potential carbon credit from no- and reduced-tillage winter wheat-based cropping systems in Eastern Washington State

Zaher, U, C. Stockle, K. Painter, S. Higgins. Agricultural Systems. November 2013. Volume 122, pages 73-78.

Organic Farming Footprints

WSU webpage for the OFoot project, working to provide a scientifically sound yet simple estimation of the carbon and nitrogen sequestration and net greenhouse gas (GHG) balance likely in a given organic cropping system scenario.

Soil carbon sequestration in the dryland cropping region of the Pacific Northwest

Brown, T.T., and D.R. Huggins. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 2012 67(5):406-415; doi:10.2489/jswc.67.5.406.

Carbon storage and nitrous oxide emissions of cropping systems in eastern Washington: A simulation study

Stöckle, C., S. Higgins, A. Kemanian, R. Nelson, D. Huggins, J. Marcos, and H. Collins. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 2012 67(5):365-377; doi:10.2489/jswc.67.5.365.

Additional Publications

Global Climate Change

Weddell, B., L. Carpenter-Boggs, and S. Higgins. June 2012. FS069E. Washington State University researchers have taken a departure from the regionally focused, applied-science extension publication to write a fact sheet on the science, debate and challenges of global climate change.

Climate Change: what does the science really tell us?

A narrated Extension PowerPoint on climate science and climate change. The presentation was prepared by Craig Cogger at WSU Puyallup and covers the basics of climate science, evidence of climate change, projections of future climate change, and mitigation strategies. The presentation consists of 10 parts, each about five minutes long, so that it can be viewed in short sittings.

Building Markets for Biofertilizers — Perceptions and Performance

Video of keynote address by Chad Kruger at the 26th Annual BioCycle West Coast Conference April 2012.

The economic value of biochar in crop production and carbon sequestration

Galinato, S., J. Yoder and D. Granatstein. 2011. Energy Policy, 39(10):6344-6350.

Climate Change and Family Forest Landowners in Oregon

Grotta, A., J. Creighton, C. Schnepf, S. Kantor. 2011.

Climate Change and Family Forest Landowners in Washington

Creighton, J., C. Schnepf, A. Grotta, S. Kantor. 2011.

Executive Summary – Climate Change and Family Forest Landowners in Idaho

Schnepf, C., J. Creighton, A. Grotta, S. Kantor. 2011.

Climate Change and Family Forest Landowners in Idaho

Schnepf, C., J. Creighton, A. Grotta, S. Kantor. 2011.

Climate Change and Family Forest Landowners in Alaska

Kantor, S., J. Creighton, C. Schnepf, A. Grotta. 2011.

The Second Solution: Agriculture’s Role – video featuring eastern Washington farmer John Aeschliman

The Northwest Biocarbon Initiative aims to galvanize farmers, foresters, community leaders, and thinkers to demonstrate the essential role that natural systems can play in ensuring long-term climate stability. The Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources is part of this collaboration with several of the Northwest’s leading conservation organizations who see this effort as a logical extension of our region’s rich natural resource heritage and our history of groundbreaking innovation and stewardship.

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