Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Forestry and Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Bradford, Mark


2022Increasing soil organic carbon (SOC) is frequently promoted as a “win-win” strategy for agricultural management in the face of a changing climate. This framing is based on the notion that building SOC both reduces yield losses/variability by improving soil water dynamics, and that building SOC can contribute to climate change mitigation by reducing atmospheric carbon. While this framing may be useful, relationships between SOC and such outcomes are often poorly described and not quantitative. That is, it’s unclear how much of an improvement to SOC is needed to reduce yield losses, whether or not that effect translates across soil types and agricultural systems, and how achievable carbon sequestration goals really are. As efforts to increase SOC in agricultural systems develop, there is a need to both better synthesize our current understanding of how it supports resilience in agricultural systems and to better monitor changes in SOC to understand its impacts on climate change adaptation and resilience. My research focuses on two broad topic areas: 1.) exploring the links between SOC, soil water dynamics, and yield outcomes, particularly under drought conditions; and 2.) developing accessible, robust measurement systems and protocols for quantifying SOC stocks at landscape scales (>100 ha) that utilize visible/near-infrared (VNIR) spectrometry.