Good Soil, Good Carbon Sink

Did you know? Improving our current agricultural practices could be an enormously effective way to reduce the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere. Little things like composting, keeping fields planted year-round, reducing tillage, and increasing plant diversity could be enough to substantially increase the amount of carbon captured in soil.

From Discover Magazine:

“Ohio State University soil scientist Rattan Lal says the agricultural soils of the world have the potential to soak up 13 percent of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today—the equivalent of scrubbing every ounce of CO2released into the atmosphere since 1980.”

There are currently several projects under way around the world to test the carbon capture potential of soil-enrichment strategies.

In California, soil scientist Whendee Silver of UC Berkeley is working with ranchers and local and state land management organizations on the Marin Carbon Project to study the effect of compost from yard and agricultural waste on carbon storage. She’s projecting that “28 million acres of grazing land in California could absorb 42 million tons of carbon dioxide—nearly 40 percent of what the state’s electrical power plants produce in a year.”

In Australia, soil ecologist Christine Jones worked with ranchers to increase soil’s carbon capture potential by growing grasses that stay green all year round. Now she is working on providing incentives: accurately measuring the carbon capture so that they may be compensated for the amounts they’ve sequestered.

You can get the details at Discover Magazine.

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