Rangelands cover approximately 50% of California and have considerable potential to mitigate climate change. Several management strategies offer opportunities to build soil carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Grazing management can increase soil carbon, but significant uncertainties remain and best management practices are unknown. Long-term, well-replicated studies are urgently needed to explore the potential of grazing management for climate change mitigation. Organic amendments, particularly compost, can enhance biomass and sequester carbon on grasslands while reducing emissions from the waste sector. This strategy shows significant potential but requires additional research, particularly in arid rangelands. High-efficiency synthetic fertilizer use, plant community management, fire management, and irrigation can also influence soil carbon; however, these strategies could be challenging to scale up over large areas, and their net greenhouse gas impacts are uncertain. Remote sensing, biogeochemical modeling, and life-cycle assessments should be leveraged to identify and implement mitigation strategies.
Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions