Investigations have assessed the environmental benefits of soil organic matter (SOM) storage at two long-term European experimental research sites: (i) SOM data from a soil conservation (set-aside) site in the UK and (ii) SOM data from a carbon sequestration benchmarking site in Lithuania. The first case study (Hilton, UK) illustrates the environmental benefits of changes in SOM content before and after the adoption of set-aside, a recognized soil conservation technique. Ten run-off plots (7–15° gradients) were put to ley in 1991. Run-off and erosion rates decreased to tolerable levels once ~30% vegetation cover had established and remained low (mean of 69 plot years 0.21 t ha–1 year–1, SD 0.14). Meanwhile, SOM content increased consistently and significantly on the set-aside plots (mean of 2.22% by weight in 14 years) and soil erodibility significantly decreased. Results suggest using grass-leys for set-aside is a viable soil conservation technique, which may also contribute to carbon sequestration. The second case study (Kaltinenai, Lithuania) addresses the issue of comparing international SOM databases to assist carbon modelling and carbon sequestration estimates. Five analytical approaches have been used to calculate SOM. Linear correlation and paired regression equations were used to calculate the various techniques. Correlation coefficients varied between r = 0.83–0.98 (n = 92, P<0.001). Based on the strength and signifi cance of these relationships, it is proposed that simple linear or more complex paired regression equations can be confidently employed to recalculate SOM data between various analytical methodologies. However, it also demonstrates the potential difficulty of international carbon benchmarking, as part of the global policy to ameliorate climate change.
carbon sequestration, land management, run-off plots, soil conservation, soil organic carbon, soil organic matter
 Nelson, D.W. & Sommers, L.E., Total carbon, organic carbon and organic matter. Methods of Soil Analyses. Chemical and Microbiological Properties, ed. A.L. Page, ASA Monograph, No. 9, Part. 2, Madison, WI, pp. 539–579, 1982.
 Kogut, B.M. & Frid, A.S., Comparison of humus determination methods in soils. Pochvovedenie, 9, pp. 119–123, 1993 (in Russian).
 Lal, R., Kimble, J.M., Follett, R.F. & Stewart B.A., eds, Soil Processes and the Carbon Cycle, CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL, 1998.
 Torbert, H.A., Rogers, H.H., Prior, S.A., Schlesinger, W.H. & Runion, G.B., Effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 in agro-ecosystems on soil carbon storage. Global Change Biology, 3, pp. 513–521, 1997.
 van Kessel, C., Nitschelm, J., Horwath, W.R., Harris, D., Walley, F., Luscher, A. & Hartwig, U., Carbon-13 input and turnover in a pasture soil exposed to long-term elevated atmospheric CO2. Global Change Biology, 6, pp. 123–135, 2000.
 Hagedorn, F., Maurer, S., Egli, P., Bucher, J.B. & Siegwolf, R., Carbon sequestration in forest soils of soil type, atmospheric CO2 enrichment and N deposition. European Journal of Soil Science, 52, pp. 619–628, 2001.
 Fullen, M.A., Soil organic matter and erosion processes on arable loamy sand soils in the West Midlands of England. Soil Technology, 4, pp. 19–31, 1991.
 Fullen, M.A., Effects of grass ley set-aside on runoff, erosion and organic matter levels in sandy soils in east Shropshire, U.K. Soil & Tillage Research, 46, pp. 41–49, 1998.
 Fullen, M.A., Wu, B., & Brandsma, R.T., A comparison of the texture of grassland and eroded soils from Shropshire, U.K. Soil Tillage & Research, 46, pp. 301–305, 1998.
 Stote, C., Boatman, N.D., Borralho, R.J., Rio Carvalho, C., de Snoo, G.R. & Eden, P., Ecological impacts of arable intensifi cation in Europe. Journal of Environmental Management, 63, pp. 337–365, 2001.
 Lal, R., Soil management and restoration for C sequestration to mitigate the accelerated greenhouse effect. Progress in Environmental Science, 1, pp. 307–326, 1999.
 Commission of the European Community, Towards a Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection, Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee of the Regions: Brussels, 2002.
 Fullen, M.A., Arnalds, A., Booth, C.A., Castillo, V., Kertesz, A., Martin, P., Souchere, V., Sole, A. & Verstraeten, G., Government and agency response to soil erosion risk in Europe. Soil Erosion in Europe, eds J. Boardman & J. Poesen, John Wiley & Sons Publishers: Chichester, UK, pp. 805–826, 2006.
 Chisci, G., Perspectives on soil protection measures in Europe. Conserving Soil Resources: European Perspectives, ed. R.J. Rickson, CAB International: Wallingford, UK, pp. 339–353, 1994.
 Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, The Soil Code, MAFF Publications: London, UK, 66 pp., 1998.
 Environment Agency, Best Farming Practices: Profi ting from a Good Environment, Environment Agency Publications: Bristol, UK, 57 pp., 2001.
 Ecoscope Applied Ecologists, Review of Agri-Environmental Schemes – Monitoring Information and Research and Development Results, Final report for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: London, 2003.
 http://www.defra.gov.uk/erdp/reviews/agrienv/default.htm (accessed 25 June 2008).
 Batjes, N.H., Total carbon and nitrogen in the soils of the world. European Journal of Soil Science, 47, pp. 151–163, 1996.
 Lal, R., Soil carbon dynamics in cropland and rangeland. Environmental Pollution, 116, pp. 353–362, 2002.
 Lal, R., Soil erosion and the global carbon budget. Environmental International, 29, pp. 437–450, 2003.
 Fullen, M.A. & Catt, J.A., Soil Management – Problems and Solutions. Arnold Publishers: London, UK, 269 pp., 2004.
 King, A.W., Post, W.M. & Wullschleger, S.D., The potential response of terrestrial carbon storage to changes in climate and atmospheric CO2. Climate Change, 35, pp. 199–227, 1997.
 Smith, P., Powlson, D.S., Glendining, M.J. & Smith, J.U., Potential for carbon sequestration in European soils: preliminary estimates for fi ve scenarios using results from long-term experiments. Global Change Biology, 3, pp. 67–79, 1997.
 Booth, C.A., Fullen, M.A., Jankauskas, B., Jankauskiene, G. & Slepetiene, A., The role of soil organic matter content in soil conservation and carbon sequestration studies: case studies from Lithuania and the U.K., Sustainable Planning & Development II, eds A.G. Kungolos, C.A. Brebbia & E. Beriatos, WIT Press: Southampton, pp. 463–473, 2005.
 Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Set-Aside, Advisory Leafl et PB 0299, MAFF Publications: London, UK, 23 pp., 1991.
 Ball, D.F., Loss-on-ignition as an estimate of organic matter and organic carbon in non-calcareous soils. Journal of Soil Science, 15, pp. 84–92, 1964.
 Fullen, M.A. & Booth, C.A., Grass ley set-aside and soil organic matter dynamics on sandy soils in Shropshire, U.K. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 31, pp. 570–578, 2006.
 Guerra, A., The effect of organic matter content on soil erosion in simulated rainfall experiments in W. Sussex, U.K. Soil Use and Management, 10, pp. 60–64, 1994.
 Foster, I.D.L., Fullen, M.A., Brandsma, R.T. & Chapman, A.S., Drip-screen rainfall simulators for hydro- and pedo-geomorphological research: the Coventry experience. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 25, pp. 691–707, 2000.
 Wedin, D.A. & Tilman. D., Infl uence of nitrogen loading and species composition on the carbon balance of grasslands. Science, 274, pp. 1720–1723, 1996.
 Lal, R., Modest proposal for the year 2001: we can control greenhouse gases and feed the world with proper soil management. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 55, pp. 429–433, 2000.
 Lal, R., Soil erosion and carbon dynamics, Soil & Tillage Research, 81, pp. 137–142, 2005.
 Chambers, B.J. & Garwood, T.W.D., Monitoring of water erosion on arable farms in England & Wales. 1990–94. Soil Use & Management, 16, pp. 93–99, 2000.
 Lithuanian Statistical Offi ce, Agriculture and Forestry – Statistical Yearbook of Lithuania 1994–1995, Vilnius, pp. 298–309, 1995 (in Lithuanian and English).
 Lithuanian Statistical Offi ce, Agriculture and Forestry – Statistical Yearbook of Lithuania 2000, Vilnius, pp. 387–426, 2000 (in Lithuanian and English).
 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Climate Change 2001: The Scientifi c Basis. Summary for Policymakers (Third Assessment Report), Geneva, Switzerland, 2001.
 Krogh, L., Noergaard, A., Hermansen, M., Humlekrog Greve, M., Balstroem, T. & Breuning-Madsen, H., Preliminary estimates of contemporary soil organic carbon stocks in Denmark using multiple datasets and four scaling-up methods. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 96, pp. 19–28, 2003.
 Leifeld, J., Bassin, S. & Fuhrer, J., Carbon stocks in Swiss agricultural soils predicted by land-use, soil characteristics and altitude. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 105, pp. 255–266, 2005.
 Jankauskas, B. & Jankauskiene, G., Erosion-preventive crop rotations for landscape ecological stability in upland regions of Lithuania. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 95, pp. 129–142, 2003.
 Jankauskas, B., Jankauskiene, G. & Fullen, M.A., Erosion-preventive crop rotations and water erosion rates on undulating slopes in Lithuania. Canadian Journal of Soil Science, 84, pp. 177–186, 2004.
 Aleksandrova, L.N. & Naidenova, O.A., Laboratory Practice in Soil Science. Kolos: Leningrad, 1976 (in Russian).
 Orlov, D.S. & Grisina, L.A., Guide to the Chemistry of Humus. MGU Press: Moscow, 1981 (in Russian).
 Nikitin, B.A., 1999. A method for soil humus determination. Agricultural Chemistry, 3, pp. 156–158, 1999.
 USDA, Primary characterization data. Soil Survey Laboratory Information Manual. NSSC, SSL: Lincoln, NE, pp. 9–133, 1995.
 Schmidt, M.W.I., Skjemstad, J.O., Gehrt, E. & Kogel-Knabner, I., Charred organic carbon in Chernozemic soils. Eurasian Journal of Soil Science, 50, pp. 351–365, 1999.
 Butkute, B. & Slepetiene, A., Near-infrared refl ectance spectroscopy as a fast method for simultaneous prediction of several soil quality components. Chemija, 15, pp. 12–20, 2004.
 Jankauskas, B., Jankauskiene, G., Slepetiene, A., Fullen, M.A. & Booth, C.A., International comparison of analytical protocols for determining soil organic matter content on Lithuanian Albeluvisols. Acta Universitatis Latviensis, 692, pp. 66–77, 2005.
 Rojkov, V., Konjushkov, D. & Kogut, B., Distribution of the reserves of organic matter in the soil cover of Russia, 17th World Congress in Soil Science (Bangkok, Thailand), Symposium paper no. 44, Thailand, pp. 2237-1–2237-13, 2002.