Quantifying changes in soil carbon stocks of grazed pastures: identifying gains and avoiding losses

Professor Louis Schipper


There is an increasing emphasis on removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing this carbon in soil to mitigate against predicted trajectories of climate change. While simple in concept facilitating this transformation requires deep understanding of carbon cycling scaling up from fundamental processes of surface chemistry, photosynthesis and respiration and aggregating these up to (agro)ecosystems and their management. I will take the top down approach examining evidence for changes in carbon stocks associated with management of intensively grazed pastures. The timeframe to identify management practices that encourage gains and avoid soil carbon losses mean that traditional soil sampling approaches may take too long to answer these questions. Techniques such as eddy covariance allow us to identify subtleties of carbon cycling at hectare scales to rapidly identify possible management solutions and collaborate across scales from the hectare to the soil surface of soil particles. These management practices need to be practical, maintain food production, decrease greenhouse gas production or at a minimum increase efficiency at producing food per unit of greenhouse gas production


Louis Schipper is a Professor at the University of Waikato investigating soil biogeochemical processes at landscape scales and how they might be manipulated to achieve improved environmental performance. He has led teams determining changes in carbon stocks of pasture soils at paddock to national scales. They have provided data and understanding that has been central to developing a national picture of New Zealand’s carbon budget. They have tested simple soil sampling strategies and eddy covariance approaches to quantify changes in soil carbon stocks associated with landuse change and different management practices. He also has helped develop new theories of temperature dependence of biological processes with a specific focus on soil respiration, scaling from enzymes to ecosystems and the globe. Louis is a principal investigator for the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre and elected fellow of the New Zealand and American soil science societies.


7th International Symposium
Soil Organic Matter

6 – 11 October 2019

Hilton Adelaide

Adelaide, South Australia


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