Current and Emerging Protocols for Carbon Measurement in Agricultural Soils
Incinerator for measuring carbon (left) and Dry Combustion Elemental Analyzer (right).
View on EDIS
PDF 2023


How to Cite

Melkani, Suraj, Noel Manirakiza, Shirley M. Baker, and Jehangir H. Bhadha. 2023. “Current and Emerging Protocols for Carbon Measurement in Agricultural Soils: SL508/SS721, 10/2023”. EDIS 2023 (5). Gainesville, FL.


Soils have the capacity to function as a sink of atmospheric carbon dioxide and are crucial for climate regulation. Soils have the potential to store around 1.5 to 2.4 trillion metric tons of carbon (C) in the soil globally. They contain large C pools that can store three times more C than the atmosphere and four times more than plants. These massive C sinks have the potential to reverse soil degradation, mitigate climate change, and enhance food security. It is therefore essential to monitor the C cycle by accurately measuring the amount of soil C in agricultural fields. This can help in developing sustainable management practices that can minimize C emissions and sequester C into the soil from the atmosphere. This publication describes the various current and emerging protocols that can be used to measure soil C.
View on EDIS
PDF 2023


Angelopoulou, T., N. Tziolas, A. Balafoutis, G. Zalidis, and D. Bochtis. 2019. "Remote Sensing Techniques for Soil Organic Carbon Estimation: A Review.” Remote Sensing. 11(6): 676.

Apesteguia, M., A. F. Plante, and I. Virto. 2018. “Methods Assessment for Organic Assessment for Organic and Inorganic Carbon Quantification in Calcareous Soils of the Mediterranean Region.” Geoderma Regional. 12: 39-48.

Atkins, P.W., and L. Jones. 1991. Principles of Elemental Chemistry. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Balesdent, J., G. H. Wagner, and A. Mariotti. 1988. “Soil Organic Matter Turnover in Long-term Field Experiments as Revealed by Carbon-13 Natural Abundance.” Soil Science Society of America Journal. 52(1): 118-124.

Ben-Dor, E., J. Irons, and G. Epema. 1999. "Soil Reflectance." In Remote Sensing for the Earth Sciences: Manual of Remote Sensing, edited by N. Rencz. 3: 111-188. New York: Wiley & Sons Inc.

Burba, G., R. Madsen, and K. Feese. 2013. “Eddy Covariance Method for CO2 Emission Measurements in CCUS Application: Principles, Instrumentation, and Software.” Energy Procedia. 40: 329-336.

Chabrillat, S., E. Ben-Dor, J. Cierniewski, C. Gomez, T. Schmid, and B. van Wesemael. 2019. “Imaging Spectroscopy for Soil Mapping and Monitoring.” Surveys in Geophysics. 40(3): 361-399.

Chatterjee, A., R. Lal., L. Wielopolski, M. Z. Martin, and M. H. Ebinger. 2009. "Evaluation of Different Soil Carbon Determination Methods.” Critical Reviews in Plant Science. 28(3): 164-178.

Ciais, P., C. Sabine, G. Bala, L. Bopp, V. Brovkin, J. Canadell, A. Chhabra, et al. 2014. “Carbon and other Biogeochemical Cycles.” In Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 465-570. Cambridge University Press.

Ghani, A., M. Dexter, R. A. Carran, and P. W. Theobald. 2007. “Dissolved Organic Nitrogen and Carbon in Pastoral Soils: The New Zealand Experience.” European Journal of Soil Science. 58(3): 832-843.

Griggs, D. J., and M. Noguer. 2002. “Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.” Weather. 57(8): 267-269.

Grinand, C., B. G. Barthès, D. Brunet, E. Kouakoua, D. Arrouays, C. Jolivet, G. Caria, and M. Bernoux. 2012. “Prediction of Soil Organic and Inorganic Carbon Contents at a National Scale (France) Using Mid-Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy (MIRS).” European Journal of Soil Science. 63(2): 141-151.

Grunwald, S. 2022. “Artificial Intelligence and Soil Carbon Modeling Demystified: Power, Potentials, and Perils.” Carbon Footprints. 1(1): 5.

Grunwald, S., J. A. Thompson, and J. L. Boettinger. 2011. “Digital Soil Mapping and Modeling at Continental Scales: Finding Solutions for Global Issues.” Soil Science Society of America Journal. 75(4): 1201-1213.

Harmon, R. S., and G. S. Senesi. 2021. “Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy–A Geochemical Tool for the 21st Century.” Applied Geochemistry. 128: 104929.

Lal, R. 2019. “Conceptual Basis of Managing Soil Carbon: Inspired by Nature and Driven by Science.” Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 74(2): 29a-34a.

Matus, F. B., V. A. Hermosilla, C. G. Maire, and S. F. Ortega. 1997. “Comparison in the Detemination of Soil Organic Matter by Partial and Complete Oxidation in Different Soils of the VII Region.” Agricultura Technica. 57: 195-199.

Milori, D. M. B. P., H. V. A. Galeti, L. Martin-Neto, J. Dieckow, M. González-Pérez, C. Bayer, and J. Salton. 2006. "Organic Matter Study of Whole Soil Samples Using Laser-Induced Fluorescence Spectroscopy.” Soil Science Society of America Journal. 70(1): 57-63.

Vasques, G. M., S. Grunwald, and D. B. Myers. 2012. “Associations Between Soil Carbon and Ecological Landscape Variables at Escalating Spatial Scales in Florida, USA.” Landscape Ecology. 27: 355-367.

Nayak, A. K., M. M. Rahman, R. Naidu, B. Dhal, C. Swain, A. Nayak, R. Tripathi, M. Shahid, M. R. Islam, and H. Pathak. 2019. "Current and Emerging Methodologies for Estimating Carbon in Agricultural Soils: A Review.” Science of the Total Environment. 665: 890-912.

Neal, R. H., and T. Younglove. 1993. “The Use of a Dry Combustion Infrared Instrumental Technique to Determine Total and Organic Carbon in California Soils.” Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis. 24(19-20): 2733-2746.

Nelson, D. W., and L. E. Sommers. 1996. “Total Carbon, Organic Carbon, and Organic Matter.” In Methods of Soil Analysis: Part 3 Chemical Methods 5.3, edited by D. L. Sparks, et al. 961-1010. Soil Science Society of America.

Olson, J. S. 1963. “Energy Storage and the Balance of Producers and Decomposers in Ecological Systems.” Ecology. 44(2): 322-331.

Paul, E. A., R. F. Follett, S. W. Leavitt, A. Halvorson, G. A. Peterson, and D. J. Lyon. 1997. “Radiocarbon Dating for Determination of Soil Organic Matter Pool Sizes and Dynamics.” Soil Science Society of America Journal. 61(4): 1058-1067.

Pedersen, L. 2002. “Science Target Assessment for Mars Rover Instrument Deployment.” In IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems. 1: 817-822. IEEE.

Rinne, J., and C. Ammann. 2012. “Disjunct Eddy Covariance Method.” In Eddy Covariance, edited by M. Aubinet, T. Vesala, D. Papale. 291-307. Springer Atmospheric Sciences. Springer, Dordrecht.

Schulte, E. E., C. Kaufmann, and J. B. Peter. 1991. “The Influence of Sample Size and Heating Time on Soil Weight Loss-on-Ignition.” Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis. 22(1-2): 159-168.

Senesi, G. S., and N. Senesi. 2016. “Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) to Measure Quantitatively Soil Carbon with Emphasis on Soil Organic Carbon. A Review.” Analytica Chimica Acta. 938: 7-17.

Six, J., & Jastrow, J. D. (2002). “Organic Matter Turnover.” In Encyclopedia of Soil Science, 2nd ed., edited by R. Lal. 1210-1215.

Thompson, J. A., S. Roecker, S. Grunwald, and P. R. Owens. 2012. “Chapter 21 - Digital Soil Mapping: Interactions with and Applications for Hydropedology.” In Hydropedology, edited by H. Lin. 665-709. Academic Press.

Walkley, A., and I. A. Black. 1934. “An Examination of the Degtjareff Method for Determining Soil Organic Matter, and a Proposed Modification of the Chromic Acid Titration Method.” Soil Science. 37(1): 29-38.

Wang, G., W. Zhang, W. Sun, T. Li, and P. Han. 2017. “Modeling Soil Organic Carbon Dynamics and Their Driving Factors in the Main Global Cereal Cropping Systems.” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 17(19): 11849-11859.

Wang, S., K. Guan, C. Zhang, D. Lee, A. J. Margenot, Y. Ge, J. Peng, W. Zhou, Q. Zhou, & Y. Huang. 2022. “Using Soil Library Hyperspectral Reflectance and Machine Learning to Predict Soil Organic Carbon: Assessing Potential of Airborne and Spaceborne Optical Soil Sensing.” Remote Sensing of Environment. 271: 112914.

Wetterlind, J., B. Stenberg, and M. Söderström. 2010. “Increased Sample Point Density in Farm Soil Mapping by Local Calibration of Visible and Near Infrared Predication Models.” Geoderma. 156(3-4): 152-160.

Wielopolski, L., and E. Carayannis. 2011. “Nuclear Methodology for Non-Destructive Multi-Elemental Analysis of Large Volumes of Soil.” In Planet Earth, edited by E. G. Carayannis. 467-492.

Wielopolski, L., G. Hendrey, K. H. Johnsen, S. Mitra, S. A. Prior, H. H. Rogers, and H. A. Torbert. 2008. “Nondestructive System for Analyzing Carbon in the Soil.” Soil Science Society of America Journal. 72(5): 1269-1277.

Wielopolski, L., S. Mitra, and O. Doron. 2008. “Non-Carbon-Based Compact Shadow Shielding for 14 MeV Neutrons.” Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry. 276(1): 179-182.

Zhang, Z., and J. C. Moore. 2014. Mathematical and Physical Fundamentals of Climate Change. Elsevier.

Copyright (c) 2023 UF/IFAS