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      Perennial grain Kernza ® fields have higher particulate organic carbon at depth than annual grain fields

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          Abstract

          Conversion from annual to perennial grains such as intermediate wheatgrass Kernza ® could sequester soil organic carbon (SOC). To date, no studies have quantified SOC under Kernza on working farms. We sampled three sites with paired fields under annual grains and converted to Kernza 5–17 years ago to 100 cm and compared their SOC stocks as distributed between mineral-associated organic matter (MAOM) and particulate organic matter (POM). POM-C was higher under Kernza cultivation but total and MAOM-C were similar. Our findings suggest that Kernza increases SOC at depth as POM. Further study is needed to assess whether this will result in long-term SOC sequestration.

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          Soil carbon storage informed by particulate and mineral-associated organic matter

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            Is the future of agriculture perennial? Imperatives and opportunities to reinvent agriculture by shifting from annual monocultures to perennial polycultures

            Modern agriculture is associated with numerous environmental predicaments, such as land degradation, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emission. Socio-economically, it is characterized by a treadmill of technological change, increased mechanization, and economic consolidation, while depressing economic returns to farmers. A root cause is the dominance of annual plants cultivated in monocultures. Annual crops require the yearly clearing of vegetation resulting in soil erosion and other forms of ecosystem degradation. Monocultures are susceptible to agricultural pests and weeds. By contrast, perennial polycultures informed by natural ecosystems, promise more sustainable agroecosystems with the potential to also revitalize the economic foundation of farming and hence rural societies. Ten thousand years ago, humans begun domesticating wild annual plants to create the cereals and pulses that provide the mainstay of our food. The choice to domesticate annuals initiated the expansion of a novel and ecologically simple food-producing ecosystem, dependent on frequent and intense soil disturbances. Here we discuss the ecological, social and economic consequences of annual grain agriculture. In converting natural perennial ecosystems to annual crop monocultures for the provisioning of food, the ecosystems services of soil formation, nutrient retention, organic matter storage, pest suppression and others have been converted into the disservices of soil erosion, nutrient contamination, loss of organic carbon, and reliance on toxic agrochemicals. These processes are accelerated by increasing economic consolidation in agricultural industries and the relentless pursuit of economic efficiency, which has not only carried major consequences for the environment but also for the social fabric of rural societies. But a different agriculture is possible. We now have the technical capacity and ecological understanding to reinvent agriculture, so that it captures the key features of perenniality and diversity that characterize natural terrestrial ecosystems. Such a reinvention would also challenge the social and economic relations that uphold the current industrial model of agriculture.
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              What Agriculture Can Learn from Native Ecosystems in Building Soil Organic Matter: A Review

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                (View ORCID Profile)
                Journal
                Canadian Journal of Soil Science
                Can. J. Soil. Sci.
                Canadian Science Publishing
                0008-4271
                1918-1841
                December 01 2022
                December 01 2022
                : 102
                : 4
                : 1005-1009
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
                [2 ]Natural Resources Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
                [3 ]Graduate Degree Program in Ecology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
                [4 ]USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Salina, KS 67401, USA
                [5 ]The Land Institute, Salina, KS 67401, USA
                Article
                10.1139/cjss-2022-0026
                5aad7bd9-5279-47d4-af2c-72a122765111
                © 2022

                https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/deed.en_GB

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