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Transformation of lands into pastures increased their bio-productivity

A group of researchers with the participation of Sergei Khudaev from the Institute of Soil Science and Agrochemistry of Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences found that conversion of lands to pastures increases their bio-productivity, which in turn increases the amount of «organic» carbon in the soil. As a result, bacteria and fungi oxidise the carbon on a large scale, which enriches the Earth’s atmosphere with CO2 — the main greenhouse gas on our planet. The corresponding article is published in the Global Change Biology.
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Satellite observation data were used to assess bio-productivity of the lands, including the leaf area index, which estimates plants bio-productivity by the changes in the spectrum (simply put — the colour) of vegetation in a particular zone.

It turned out that transformation of both arable land and forests into pastures makes overall bio-productivity of the territory markedly higher. The effect of herbivores is among the possible reasons for this, since it introduces into the soil a number of substances with manure. Additionally, the study showed that the level of bio-productivity is directly related to the temperature and humidity in a particular region.

It means that active deforestation aimed at creation of new pastures is particularly dangerous for the carbon balance on the planet.

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