Healthy soils for sustainable agriculture: the role of SOM
3–7 September 2017 • Rothamsted Research • Harpenden (United Kingdom)
Chair: Rolf Sommer (International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), KE)
Biophysical simulation models have been used to study SOM dynamics for some decades. Application of such mathematical tools allows for point-scale, regional or even global assessments of the impact of land management on SOM dynamics, soil health and fertility. They are also increasingly used ex-ante for identification and prioritization of best-bet soil carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation practices in agriculture. These models, e.g. RothC and CENTURY, often rely on partitioning soil organic carbon into a set of conceptual pools, the breakdown of which is described by first order kinetics with mean residence times (“recalcitrance”) ranging from months to millennia. However, these pools have no analogues in nature. Contemporary analytical approaches suggest that SOC turnover is governed by physical accessibility rather than chemical recalcitrance.
This session intends to shed light into the issue. We invite scientists to present their latest ideas and concepts of next generation SOM models; from microbial level to global scales. We want to find out whether, given the latest biogeochemical insights into SOM dynamics, classical – conceptual pool-based – models are obsolete and thus should be scraped altogether. The session will also explore options for establishing a global community of practice connecting open-source, open access SOM model development and programing to its applications, to advance our abilities to use SOM models to support policy initiatives aiming at sustainable land management solutions.