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Studies of Effects of Grazing on Carbon Sequestration

Here are articles associated with our series on grazing and carbon sequestration. Many are publicly available, so we’ve provided the full paper for you to download. For those not publicly available we’ve provided links to abstracts.

As we add articles to this series, we’ll be adding the papers associated with that new topic in the series. We’ve tried to separate the articles by topic covered in the series, but many articles inform all parts of the series.

If you have articles you would like us to review, please email us a copy here.

Does Grazing Sequester Carbon? Part 1

Follett, Ronald F., and Debbie A. Reed. “Soil carbon sequestration in grazing lands: societal benefits and policy implications.” Rangeland Ecology & Management 63, no. 1 (2010): 4-15.

Morgan, Jack A., Ronald F. Follett, Leon Hartwell Allen, Stephen Del Grosso, Justin D. Derner, Feike Dijkstra, Alan Franzluebbers, Robert Fry, Keith Paustian, and Michele M. Schoeneberger. “Carbon sequestration in agricultural lands of the United States.” Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 65, no. 1 (2010): 6A-13A.

Lal, Rattan. “Soil carbon dynamics in cropland and rangeland.” Environmental pollution 116, no. 3 (2002): 353-362.

Lal, Rattan. “Soil carbon sequestration to mitigate climate change.” Geoderma 123, no. 1 (2004): 1-22.

Henderson, Benjamin B., Pierre J. Gerber, Tom E. Hilinski, Alessandra Falcucci, Dennis S. Ojima, Mirella Salvatore, and Richard T. Conant. “Greenhouse gas mitigation potential of the world’s grazing lands: modeling soil carbon and nitrogen fluxes of mitigation practices.” Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 207 (2015): 91-100.

Parton, William J., Myron P. Gutmann, Emily R. Merchant, Melannie D. Hartman, Paul R. Adler, Frederick M. McNeal, and Susan M. Lutz. “Measuring and mitigating agricultural greenhouse gas production in the US Great Plains, 1870–2000.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112, no. 34 (2015): E4681-E4688.

Paustian, K. A. O. J. H., Olof Andrén, Henry H. Janzen, Rattan Lal, Pete Smith, Guanglong Tian, Holm Tiessen, M. van Noordwijk, and Paul L. Woomer. “Agricultural soils as a sink to mitigate CO2 emissions.” Soil use and management 13, no. s4 (1997): 230-244.

Schuman, G. E., H. H. Janzen, and J. E. Herrick. “Soil carbon dynamics and potential carbon sequestration by rangelands.” Environmental pollution 116, no. 3 (2002): 391-396.

World Bank – Carbon Sequestration in Agricultural Soils

What 30 Years of Study Tell Us About Grazing and Carbon Sequestration

Bagchi, Sumanta, Shamik Roy, Alakananda Maitra, and Rubanpreet S. Sran. “Herbivores suppress soil microbes to influence carbon sequestration in the grazing ecosystem of the Trans-Himalaya.” Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 239 (2017): 199-206.

Banerjee, Manas R., David L. Burton, WP (Paul) McCaughey, and C. A. Grant. “Influence of pasture management on soil biological quality.” Journal of Range Management (2000): 127-133.

Conant, Richard T., Keith Paustian, and Edward T. Elliott. “Grassland management and conversion into grassland: effects on soil carbon.” Ecological applications 11, no. 2 (2001): 343-355.

Chimner, Rodney A., and Jeffery M. Welker. “Influence of grazing and precipitation on ecosystem carbon cycling in a mixed-grass prairie.” Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice 1, no. 1 (2011): 20.

Derner, J. D., D. D. Briske, and T. W. Boutton. “Does grazing mediate soil carbon and nitrogen accumulation beneath C 4, perennial grasses along an environmental gradient?.” Plant and Soil 191, no. 2 (1997): 147-156.

Derner, Justin D., Thomas W. Boutton, and David D. Briske. “Grazing and ecosystem carbon storage in the North American Great Plains.” Plant and Soil 280, no. 1 (2006): 77-90.

Derner, J. D., and G. E. Schuman. “Carbon sequestration and rangelands: a synthesis of land management and precipitation effects.” Journal of soil and water conservation 62, no. 2 (2007): 77-85.

Frank, A. B. “Carbon dioxide fluxes over a grazed prairie and seeded pasture in the Northern Great Plains.” Environmental Pollution 116, no. 3 (2002): 397-403.

Frank, A. B. “Six years of CO2 flux measurements for a moderately grazed mixed-grass prairie.” Environmental management 33, no. 1 (2004): S426-S431.

Garnett, Tara, Cecile Godde, Adrian Muller, Elin Roos, Pete Smith, Imke de Boer, Erasmus zu Ermgassem, Mario Herrero, Corina van Middelaar, Christian Schader and Hannah van Zanten. Grazed and confused? Food Climate Research Network (2017) (6.1 MB from FCRN website)

Ganjegunte, Girisha K., George F. Vance, Caroline M. Preston, Gerald E. Schuman, Lachlan J. Ingram, Peter D. Stahl, and Jeffrey M. Welker. “Soil organic carbon composition in a northern mixed-grass prairie.” Soil Science Society of America Journal 69, no. 6 (2005): 1746-1756.

Haferkamp, Marshall R., and M. D. MacNeil. “Grazing effects on carbon dynamics in the northern mixed-grass prairie.” Environmental Management 33, no. 1 (2004): S462-S474.

Henderson, Darcy C., Ben H. Ellert, and M. Anne Naeth. “Grazing and soil carbon along a gradient of Alberta rangelands.” Journal of Range Management 57, no. 4 (2004): 402-410.

Ingram, L. J., P. D. Stahl, G. E. Schuman, J. S. Buyer, G. F. Vance, G. K. Ganjegunte, J. M. Welker, and J. D. Derner. “Grazing impacts on soil carbon and microbial communities in a mixed-grass ecosystem.” Soil Science Society of America Journal 72, no. 4 (2008): 939-948.

Li, Chenhui, Lisa M. Fultz, Jennifer Moore-Kucera, Veronica Acosta-Martínez, Juske Horita, Richard Strauss, John Zak, Francisco Calderón, and David Weindorf. “Soil carbon sequestration potential in semi-arid grasslands in the Conservation Reserve Program.” Geoderma 294 (2017): 80-90.

Manley, J. T., G. E. Schuman, J. D. Reeder, and R. H. Hart. “Rangeland soil carbon and nitrogen responses to grazing.” Journal of soil and water conservation 50, no. 3 (1995): 294-298.

Morgan, Jack A., William Parton, Justin D. Derner, Tagir G. Gilmanov, and David P. Smith. “Importance of Early Season Conditions and Grazing on Carbon Dioxide Fluxes in Colorado Shortgrass Steppe.” Rangeland Ecology & Management 69, no. 5 (2016): 342-350.

Nemani, Ramakrishna, Michael White, Peter Thornton, Kenlo Nishida, Swarna Reddy, Jennifer Jenkins, and Steven Running. “Recent trends in hydrologic balance have enhanced the terrestrial carbon sink in the United States.” Geophysical Research Letters 29, no. 10 (2002).

Peri, P. L., B. Ladd, R. G. Lasagno, and G. Martínez Pastur. “The effects of land management (grazing intensity) vs. the effects of topography, soil properties, vegetation type, and climate on soil carbon concentration in Southern Patagonia.” Journal of Arid Environments 134 (2016): 73-78.

Wayne Polley, H., Albert B. Frank, Joaquin Sanabria, and Rebecca L. Phillips. “Interannual variability in carbon dioxide fluxes and flux–climate relationships on grazed and ungrazed northern mixed‐grass prairie.” Global Change Biology 14, no. 7 (2008): 1620-1632.

Reeder, J. D., and G. E. Schuman. “Influence of livestock grazing on C sequestration in semi-arid mixed-grass and short-grass rangelands.” Environmental pollution 116, no. 3 (2002): 457-4636.

Schuman, G. E., J. D. Reeder, J. T. Manley, R. H. Hart, and W. A. Manley. “Impact of grazing management on the carbon and nitrogen balance of a mixed‐grass rangeland.” Ecological applications 9, no. 1 (1999): 65-71.<

Schuman, G. E., H. H. Janzen, and J. E. Herrick. “Soil carbon dynamics and potential carbon sequestration by rangelands.” Environmental pollution 116, no. 3 (2002): 391-396.

Schuman, G. E., L. J. Ingram, P. D. Stahl, J. D. Derner, G. F. Vance, and J. A. Morgan. “Influence of management on soil organic carbon dynamics in northern mixed-grass rangeland.” Soil Carbon Sequestration and the Greenhouse Effect’. SSSA Special Publication 57 (2009): 169-180.

Skinner, R. Howard. “High biomass removal limits carbon sequestration potential of mature temperate pastures.” Journal of environmental quality 37, no. 4 (2008): 1319-1326.

Svejcar, Tony, Raymond Angell, James A. Bradford, William Dugas, William Emmerich, Albert B. Frank, Tagir Gilmanov et al. “Carbon fluxes on North American rangelands.” Rangeland Ecology & Management 61, no. 5 (2008): 465-474.

Wang, Dong, Gao-Lin Wu, Yu Liu, Zheng Yang, and Hong-Min Hao. “Effects of grazing exclusion on CO 2 fluxes in a steppe grassland on the Loess Plateau (China).” Ecological Engineering 83 (2015): 169-175.

Wick, John – personal communication, September, 2017- John Wick is one of the founders of the Marin Carbon Project (MCP) and organization that seeks to enhance carbon sequestration in rangeland, agricultural, and forest soils through applied research, demonstration and implementation.

Witt, G. Bradd, Michelle V. Noël, Michael I. Bird, RJS Bob Beeton, and Neal W. Menzies. “Carbon sequestration and biodiversity restoration potential of semi-arid mulga lands of Australia interpreted from long-term grazing exclosures.” Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 141, no. 1 (2011): 108-118.

Xiong, Dingpeng, Peili Shi, Xianzhou Zhang, and Chris B. Zou. “Effects of grazing exclusion on carbon sequestration and plant diversity in grasslands of China—A meta-analysis.” Ecological Engineering 94 (2016): 647-655.

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Kathy Voth
Kathy Vothhttps://onpasture.com
I am the founder, editor and publisher of On Pasture, now retired. My career spanned 40 years of finding creative solutions to problems, and sharing ideas with people that encouraged them to work together and try new things. From figuring out how to teach livestock to eat weeds, to teaching range management to high schoolers, outdoor ed graduation camping trips with fifty 6th graders at a time, building firebreaks with a 130-goat herd, developing the signs and interpretation for the Storm King Fourteen Memorial trail, receiving the Conservation Service Award for my work building the 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah...well, the list is long so I'll stop with, I've had a great time and I'm very grateful.


  1. You might check the large meta analysis by Zhou et al: Light-to-moderate grazing increases soil carbon overall compared to no grazing or heavy grazing.
    Zhou, G., X. Zhou, Y. He, J. Shao, Z. Hu, R. Liu, et al. 2016. Grazing intensity significantly affects belowground carbon and nitrogen cycling in grassland ecosystems: a meta-analysis. Global Change Biology: n/a-n/a. doi:10.1111/gcb.13431.

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