The Soil Survey Division of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is undertaking a comprehensive inventory of US soil carbon stocks that will include biochar, or black carbon in the soils.  The Rapid Soil Carbon Assessment program will be useful for carbon accounting and for conservation practice planning and assessment.  The program will also evaluate soil carbon stocks as affected by ecosystem status, land cover, and agricultural management.

The Soil Survey Division of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is undertaking a comprehensive inventory of US soil carbon stocks that will include biochar, or black carbon in the soils.  The Rapid Soil Carbon Assessment program will be useful for carbon accounting and for conservation practice planning and assessment.  The program will also evaluate soil carbon stocks as affected by ecosystem status, land cover, and agricultural management.

The first phase of the program, scheduled to conclude in September, 2010, will develop the national soil carbon inventory, and create a spatial map.  The last such map created by USDA was published in 2001, showing estimated soil organic carbon to one meter depth.

The second phase of the work will create statistically valid measurements of soil carbon stocks by ecosystem and by agricultural management practices.

The data sets created from this work will be important for establishing and supporting policies and approaches for awarding credits or value for soil carbon sequestration achieved by the agricultural sector, whether in the form of market-based offsets or programmatic payments for ecosystem services through conservation and other farm management practices.

For more information on this work, see a USDA overview of the program, which includes contact information for the relevant USDA/NRCS scientists engaged in this effort.