The secret to richer, carbon-capturing soil? Treat your microbes well
By Nathanael Johnson Posted Image Kelsey Amelia Bates
"Imagine if someone invented machines to suck carbon out of the atmosphere — machines that were absurdly cheap, autonomous, and solar powered, too. Wouldn’t that be great? But we already have these gadgets! They’re called plants.
The way that soil locks up greenhouse gas has been frustratingly mysterious, but the basics are clear: After plants suck up the carbon, the critters (microbes and fungi and insects) swarming in the topsoil chew up plant molecules, subjecting them to one chemical reaction after another as they pass through a fantastically complex food web. If everything goes right, the end result is microscopic bricks of stable carbon, which form the foundation of rich black soil.
They will eat corn stalks and wheat straw, but that, alone, is not a balanced diet. That’s like giving people nothing to eat but a mountain of sugar. There are certain elements that all creatures on earth need to build the bodies of the next generation: carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, oxygen, and hydrogen. These six elements are the basic ingredients of living organisms. By leaving stalks and stems on the fields they were providing a lot of carbon, and oxygen and hydrogen comes easily from the air, but the bugs were lacking in nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorus.
Instead of simply trying to optimize for the plants, they’ve realized, you can optimize soil along with the plant – you can optimize the whole system.
All this helps explain why organic farms often capture more carbon. In adding compost to amend the soil, organic farmers are adding the same ratios of nutrients.
One thing is certain: If agriculture were able to switch from an emitter of carbon to an absorber of carbon, the effect would be huge. Plants, those cheap carbon-removal machines that nature has given us, work well. If we can get them to make our dinner while they are also sucking up greenhouse gas, what a coup that would be."http://grist.org/foo..._campaign=daily
I've got two large outdoor composters, 4 composting gardens complete with nematodes and worms of several species and of course fungi. I used compost starter periodically as the outdoor ones filled.
The easy way of "night soil" and cow poop on the ground or piles of leaves, but they are, in reality, very incomplete compost. Real compost doesn't stink. It should also contain charcoal bits or biochar. Healthy soil has a web of life in it, that true compost feeds and becomes fertilizer for the system including edible/usable plants on top.
Since it was measured on a global scale in 1910, the Earth's farm soil has depleted 60%
This here accelerates it!!!
Oil and Gas Operations Are a ‘Death Sentence for Soil’
Amy Mall, Natural Resources Defense Council | May 5, 2014 9:45 am | Comments
Yesterday’s Denver Post has a very important story about the toll of oil and gas production on soil.
soilFIFrom spills to disruption, oil and gas operations take a heavy toll on soil. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
"Soil sounds like a really boring topic. But, as the Soil Science Society of America says: “soils sustain life.” According to the Society, “soil supports and nourishes the plants that we eat” and that livestock eat; soil “filters and purifies much of the water we drink;” “soils teem with microorganisms that have given us many life-saving medications;” and “protecting soil from erosion helps reduce the amount of air-borne dust we breathe.”
According to the Post:
At least 716,982 gallons (45 percent) of the petroleum chemicals spilled during the past decade have stayed in the ground after initial cleanup—contaminating soil, sometimes spreading into groundwater.
Oil and gas drilling produces up to 500 tons of dirt from every new well, some of it soaked with hydrocarbons and laced with potentially toxic minerals and salts.
Heavy trucks crush soil, “suffocating the delicate subsurface ecosystems that traditionally made Colorado’s Front Range suitable for farming.”
These impacts from the tens of thousands of wells in Colorado alone led a Colorado soil scientist to state that oil and gas operations are ”like a death sentence for soil.”
The Post points out that no federal or state agency has ever assessed the impact of the oil and gas boom on soil and on human health."
Some fantastic claims here, but it is a part of the whole solution;
Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change
Posted on Thursday, April 17th, 2014 at 1:50 pm.
Posted by amanda
"We are at the most critical moment in the history of our species, as man-made changes to the climate threaten humanity’s security on Earth. But there is a technology for massive planetary geo-engineering that is tried and tested and available for widespread dissemination right now. It costs little and is adaptable to local contexts the world over. It can be rolled out tomorrow providing multiple benefits beyond climate stabilization.
The solution is farming.
Simply put, we could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices, which we term “regenerative organic agriculture.”"
Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change | Rodale Institute
Slash and burn agriculture produces 27% of CO2, plus the temporary effects of sun dimming and health effects of the smoke-smog. It also must be decreeased 90% by 2023 to have even a remote chance of stopping thermageddon.
Indonesia's forest fires feed 'brown cloud' of pollution choking Asia's cities | Environment | The Observer
Indonesia's forest fires feed 'brown cloud' of pollution choking Asia's cities
An acrid haze hangs over cities in south-east Asia, where every year 700,000 people die due to air pollution. An IPCC report warns some major urban centres could become uninhabitable "
It is a lot worse than that. Most of China's northern half's soil is totally depleted of organics, and the only thing it is for is holding up plants that live off of petro-chemical fertilizers, which, of course, are also depleting. Their population will crash within 20 years, with desertification taking over much of the depleted landscape.
Soil depletion from all causes is world wide, with the average about 1/3 of what is was 100 years ago.
That is just some past posting. I know that when I did research in 1995, that we had been cutting timber 50 times its regrowth rate since WWII. Throw in deforestation from slash and burn agriculture from Brazil to Indonesia. Throw in human CO2 from fossil fuels and we are 7 trillion short on trees each year. At a thousand years per inch of soil we are over 10,000 years behind. In the past 30 years Colorado forests have increased 25 fold in fire acreage.