Modeling long-term attainable soil organic carbon sequestration across the highlands of Ethiopia

Assefa Abegaz* (Corresponding Author), Ashenafi Ali, Lulseged Tamene, Wuletawu Abera, Jo Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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The objectives of this study across the highlands of Ethiopia were (i) to characterize the association between soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks and biophysical variables, and (ii) to model and map attainable SOC sequestration associated with five improved land management practices. The spatial distribution of the SOC stock was studied using a multiple linear regression model driven by eight biophysical predictors. A widely used SOC model (RothC) was then used to model changes in SOC over the next 20 to 50 years of improved land management. Simulations were driven by the derived SOC stocks, pH and clay contents that are available in the ISRIC soils database at 250 m resolution and climate data from the “Enhancing National Climate Services Initiative” database. Organic carbon inputs to the model were estimated from the “Improved Crop Varieties Yield Register” of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resource and the Central Statistics Authority. After 50 years of conservation tillage with 80% of available manure applied to cultivated land, the total SOC stock increased by 169,182,174 t, which is 2.8 times higher than the stock increase with only 50% of available manure applied. Introduction of improved pasture species and measures to control soil erosion was an important source of net carbon sequestration in grasslands. Afforestation and reforestation of degraded landscapes and protection of natural ecosystems further increased soil carbon. This highlights the importance of improved land management practices to SOC sequestration, which in turn could enhance agricultural productivity, food security and sustainable development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5131-5162
Number of pages32
JournalEnvironment, Development and Sustainability
Early online date24 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany (BMZ) project on “Scaling up soil carbon enhancement interventions for food security and climate across complex landscapes in Kenya and Ethiopia, the CGIAR research program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE), EU-IFAD and Accelerating the Impact of CGIAR Climate Research in Africa (AICCRA) projects under CCAFS, and GCRF project GCRF-ES_T003073_1 “Reducing land degradation and carbon loss from Ethiopia’s soils to strengthen livelihoods and resilience” (RALENTIR).


  • SOC stock
  • improved land management
  • long-term simulated SOC sequestration
  • biophysical variables affecting SOC sequestration
  • RothC model


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