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Below the plow layer -- deep soil carbon storage


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It may be called carbon "farming," but deep soil carbon sequestration can be achieved on the farm and beyond.

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Below the plow layer -- deep soil carbon storage

  1. 1. Below the plow layer Managing soil for deep carbon storage
  2. 2. There are about 3.5 trillion arable acres worldwide, 10% of them in the U.S.
  3. 3. When compost is used on those acres, it adds high-carbon organic matter and inoculates soil with beneficial microbes.
  4. 4. But soil disturbance releases stored carbon to the atmosphere, adding to global warming problems.
  5. 5. Though 8 inches or so may be more typical, plows can turn soil to depths of 20 inches or more.
  6. 6. Unfortunately, the deeper the plow depth, the greater the carbon release.
  7. 7. But even tilled soils can offer long-term carbon storage if carbon can find a path from the surface to deep-soil deposits below the plow layer.
  8. 8. How does carbon move from upper soil layers to deep-soil storage?
  9. 9. Subsurface biomass from trees and other deep-rooted perennials offer long-term carbon storage.
  10. 10. Roots also provide pathways for water and ...
  11. 11. transport of microbes.
  12. 12. Microbial migration is a significant influence on deep-soil carbon storage because of their biological functions and necromass, making them sources of slow-cycling organic matter.
  13. 13. Deep-burrowing creatures also provide water and microbial pathways.
  14. 14. Ants, subterranean termites, and
  15. 15. nightcrawlers can dig down several meters into the soil, well below the deep-plow disturbance zone.
  16. 16. Nightcrawlers also pull organic matter into their burrows and deposit nutrient-rich castings (manure).
  17. 17. Thanks to soil conservation and other agricultural efforts, damaging emissions from farming operations are dropping.
  18. 18. But farming is just one of many opportunities for compost-delivered, long-term carbon storage.
  19. 19. In the U.S. alone, there are 40 million acres of lawns,
  20. 20. 50 million acres of managed turf,
  21. 21. 245.7 million acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management,
  22. 22. plus millions of additional acres in managed utility easements,
  23. 23. DOT easements, roadsides, and rest stops,
  24. 24. local and state parks, and other public and private greenspace.
  25. 25. Just a1% increase in soil organic matter can add 10 more tons of additional carbon storage on each of those acres.
  26. 26. That’s about a ¼-inch compost application.
  27. 27. Diverting organic waste for composting and compost use carries the dual benefit of sequestering carbon and ...
  28. 28. preempting methane off-gassing from landfilled organics.
  29. 29. USE COMPOST One product. Many benefits. Superior results.
  30. 30. Learn more about – • Understanding Soil Microbes and Nutrient Recycling • Compost Combats Global Warming • Other titles in the Carbon Farming series Production costs for this title were underwritten by McGill. Its use is permitted for educational purposes if presented in its entirety and without editing or other alteration. ©McGill Environmental Systems of N.C. Inc. Questions? Call McGill HQ at 919-362-1161 or use a contact form at Transforming waste. Rebuilding soils.®