Assessment of carbon in woody plants and soil across a vineyard-woodland landscape

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Williams, John N., Hollander, Allan D., O'Geen, A. Toby, Thrupp, L. Ann, Hanifin, Robert, Steenwerth, Kerri, McGourty, Glenn, and Jackson, Louise E.
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Background :Quantification of ecosystem services, such as carbon (C) storage, can demonstrate the benefits of managing for both production and habitat conservation in agricultural landscapes. In this study, we evaluated C stocks and woody plant diversity across vineyard blocks and adjoining woodland ecosystems (wildlands) for an organic vineyard in northern California. Carbon was measured in soil from 44 one m deep pits, and in aboveground woody biomass from 93 vegetation plots. These data were combined with physical landscape variables to model C stocks using a geographic information system and multivariate linear regression.

Results: Field data showed wildlands to be heterogeneous in both C stocks and woody tree diversity, reflecting the mosaic of several different vegetation types, and storing on average 36.8 Mg C/ha in aboveground woody biomass and 89.3 Mg C/ha in soil. Not surprisingly, vineyard blocks showed less variation in above- and belowground C, with an average of 3.0 and 84.1 Mg C/ha, respectively.

Conclusions: This research demonstrates that vineyards managed with practices that conserve some fraction of adjoining wildlands yield benefits for increasing overall C stocks and species and habitat diversity in integrated agricultural landscapes. For such complex landscapes, high resolution spatial modeling is challenging and requires accurate characterization of the landscape by vegetation type, physical structure, sufficient sampling, and allometric equations that relate tree species to each landscape. Geographic information systems and remote sensing techniques are useful for integrating the above variables into an analysis platform to estimate C stocks in these working landscapes, thereby helping land managers qualify for greenhouse gas mitigation credits. Carbon policy in California, however, shows a lack of focus on C stocks compared to emissions, and on agriculture compared to other sectors. Correcting these policy shortcomings could create incentives for ecosystem service provision, including C storage, as well as encourage better farm stewardship and habitat conservation.


Williams, J. N., A. D. Hollander, A. T. O’Geen, L. A. Thrupp, R. Hanifin, K. Steenwerth, G. McGourty, and L. E. Jackson. (n.d.). Assessment of carbon in woody plants and soil across a vineyard-woodland landscape. Carbon Balance and Management 6. doi: doi:10.1186/1750-0680-6-11.