Management to mitigate and adapt to climate change

R. Lal, J. A. Delgado, P. M. Groffman, N. Millar, C. Dell, A. Rotz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

239 Scopus citations


Management decisions both at the field and off-site have the potential to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation. Climate change threatens to increase the potential for soil erosion, reduce soil quality, lower agricultural productivity and negatively impact food security and global sustainability, making it one of the most severe challenges we will face in the 21st century. This paper looks at the potential of management to help us, not only mitigate climate change, but also to help us adapt to a changing climate. Different aspects of carbon management, nitrogen management, manure management, management in low-input systems (sustainable agriculture), and grazing land management are discussed as examples. Management decisions regarding conservation practices, such as no-till, conservation agriculture, and returning crop residue to the field to increase nutrient cycling, can contribute to carbon sequestration and help us mitigate and adapt to climate change. Additionally, management of grasslands, restoration of degraded/desertified lands, nitrogen management to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, precision conservation management at a field and/or watershed level, and other management alternatives can also help us mitigate and/or adapt to climate change. Management for climate change mitigation and adaptation is key for environmental conservation, sustainability of cropping systems, soil and water quality, and food security. This paper suggests, based on a review of the literature, that management decisions that reduce soil erosion, increase carbon sequestration to improve soil functions, soil quality, and soil health, and contribute to the resilience of soils and cropping systems will be needed to respond to climate change and related challenges such as food security. Our review suggests that without management decisions that increase soil and water conservation, food security for the world's growing population will be harder to achieve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-282
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Soil and Water Conservation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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