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The rapidly growing scientific literature on various aspects of carbon storage in soils has given rise to the introduction of several terms when discussing the amounts of carbon that are, or could be, stored in soils. The term \'carbon sequestration potential\', in particular, is used with different meanings, sometimes referring to what might be possible given a certain set of management conditions with little regard to soil factors which fundamentally determine carbon storage. An attempt is made to clarify some of the main issues by adopting terminology developed in plant physiology and crop modelling research. This, together with examples from the tropics, is used to clarify some of the issues as relating to mineral soils. The term \'Attainable(max)\' is defined and is suggested as the preferred term for carbon sequestration in mineral soils, being more relevant to management than \'potential\' and thereby of greater practical value. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved

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