Measuring soil organic carbon and assessing farming practices to increase soil carbon

Organic carbon is a vital component of healthy, productive soils. It consists of living organisms and their breakdown products. Soils high in organic carbon retain more water and nutrients, and can sustain a greater diversity of organisms. It is therefore important to monitor the levels of organic carbon in soil. While there are a range of standard methods, these are both expensive and unreliable. This project evaluates current methods and investigates a simple soil colour grading method using a digital camera or scanner to estimate soil carbon. The project also looks at methods that can be used by agriculture to increase the levels of organic carbon stored in soils.