How much carbon can we recapture in soils with cropland restoration?

Leveraging agricultural land’s natural ability to recapture and store previously lost soil organic carbon (SOC) is one of the most efficient, feasible, and scalable “natural climate solutions” at humanity’s disposal. While croplands keep expanding globally, cropland abandonment is a global phenomenon that naturally recaptures part of the more than 100 Pg of soil carbon historically lost through traditional agriculture. Yet the extent and duration of agricultural land abandonment and the potential of soils to store carbon following abandonment have not been quantified, and there is no consensus about the best strategies to maximize SOC recovery after abandonment.

This project will resolve this uncertainty by:
1) mapping cropland abandonment,
2) modeling and mapping SOC sequestration potentials in abandoned croplands.

This project leverages Earth Observation and ground-based data with machine-learning to inform policy and guide sustainable land management. We will identify hotspots for carbon sequestration, best practices, and provide farmers, corporations and governments a scientific tool to economically incentivize the protection of ecosystems undergoing land use changes that promote carbon sequestration.