Soil Carbon Initiative

3 February 2011

As part of its Dow Sustainability Program, the United States Studies Centre in collaboration with the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment at the University of Sydney hosted leading soil and plant scientists from the USA, Canada, Europe, UK and Australasia for a three-day Soil Carbon Summit, culminating in a Stakeholder Workshop.

The Workshop provided an opportunity for government, research and development organisations, policy makers, farmers and industry to be informed about the state of knowledge regarding the fate of carbon in soil, and the long-term consequences for soil function. Delegates had an opportunity to discuss the important steps that need to be taken to achieve the goal of sequestering more carbon, and building soil functionality so that agricultural practices may:

  • Provide a means of cancelling out carbon emissions that threaten the long-term livelihood of the world's inhabitants
  • Increase soil productivity to enable food supplies to meet ever-growing global demand
  • Translate scientific knowledge about soils into improved water retention and less erosion, particularly in light of extreme weather events such as Australia's recent large-scale floods

An important new concept to emerge from the Soil Carbon Summit is soil security. This refers to the maintenance and improvement of the world’s soil resources so that they can continue to provide food, fibre, and fresh water; make major contributions to energy and climate sustainability and help maintain biodiversity and the overall protection of ecosystem goods; and services. A principal mechanism for achieving soil security is the management and sequestration of soil carbon through active land management systems and technologies and as such soil carbon is a key indicator for soil security.

A full report of the Soil Carbon Summit can be found in the Summit Outcomes Document.

Program & Session Videos


Hon. Robert Hill Adjunct Professor in Sustainability, US Studies Centre


Andrea Koch Project Manager, Soil Carbon Initiative, US Studies Centre


The Science of Soil Carbon

Wake Up Call
Professor Iain Young University of New England


Plant Inputs
Professor Johannes Lehmann Cornell University


Plant-Soil-Microbe Interactions
Professor Tony O'Donnell University of Western Australia


Pools or Particles
Dr Julie Jastrow Argonne National Laboratory


Dr Jeffrey Baldock CSIRO


Professor Bill Parton Colorado State University


From Science to Policy

The New Zealand Experience
Dr David Whitehead NZ Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre


A Roadmap for the Future
Professor John Crawford University of Sydney


Interactive Panel Discussion

Professor Lynette Abbott University of Western Australia, Professor Mark Adams University of Sydney, Dr Denis Angers Agriculture and Agri‐Food Canada, Dr Jeff Baldock CSIRO, Professor Dan Binkley Colorado State University, Professor Michael Bird James Cook University, Professor Phil Brookes Rothamsted Research, Professor Claire Chenu AgroParisTech, Professor John Crawford University of Sydney, Dr Julie Jastrow Argonne National Laboratory, Professor Johannes Lehmann Cornell University, Professor Alex McBratney University of Sydney, Professor Tony O'Donnell University of Western Australia, Professor Bill Parton Colorado State University, Dr David Whitehead New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, Professor Iain Young University of New England, Dr Michael Zimmerman James Cook University


Wrap Up

Professor Mark Adams University of Sydney


Summary and Close

Hon. Robert Hill Adjunct Professor in Sustainability, US Studies Centre


Participants of the Science Summit

Dr Julie Jastrow, Argonne National Laboratory
Professor William Parton, Colorado State University
Professor Dan Binkley, Colorado State University
Professor Johannes Lehmann, Cornell University
Professor Rattan Lal, Ohio State University
Dr Denis Angers, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Professor Claire Chenu, ParisAgroTech
Professor Phil Brookes, Rothamsted Research

Dr David Whitehead, New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre
Dr Jeff Baldock, CSIRO
Professor Michael Bird, James Cook University
Dr Michael Zimmerman, James Cook University
Professor Iain Young, University of New England
Professor Mark Adams, University of Sydney
Professor John Crawford, University of Sydney
Professor Alex McBratney, University of Sydney
Professor Lynnette Abbott, University of Western Australia
Professor Tony O'Donnell, University of Western Australia


Suported by:


Alcoa Foundation

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