Global Soil Partnership

Soil Organic Carbon and Nitrogen | ITPS Soil Letters #2

The series of the ITPS soil letters aim to provide to the general public concise and clear information on one topic linked to the work and activities led by the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS).  This series are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and the FAO’s Strategic Objectives and contributes to the efforts of ending hunger, malnutrition, climate change adaptation, land degradation and overall sustainable development.

ITPS Soil Letters #2 - March 2021: Soil Organic Carbon and Nitrogen | Card page


Carbon and nitrogen participate directly in a wide variety of soil processes that are key to the food system and for the provision of ecosystem services. Soil organic carbon (SOC) is the main indicator of soil health and constitutes the backbone of the molecules that, together with nitrogen, build soil organic matter (SOM), which is responsible for much of the multifunctional nature of soils, optimizing soil health and productivity. Furthermore, the use of reactive nitrogen in agriculture is essential for plant growth and food security.

However, the adverse effects of nitrogen use in agriculture impose global challenges that add to other major challenges such as global population growth, urban expansion, dietary shifts, climate change and soil degradation. This second issue of the ITPS letters explores how an integrated and joint nitrogen management framework, in conjunction with recarbonization programmes, can contribute to unlocking the potential of cropped soils to mitigate and adapt to climate change. More

ITPS Soil Letters #2 - March 2021: Soil Organic Carbon and Nitrogen