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Sep 4, 2019
It may be called carbon "farming," but deep soil carbon sequestration can be achieved on the farm and beyond.
Below the plow layer
Managing soil for deep carbon storage
There are about 3.5 trillion arable acres
worldwide, 10% of them in the U.S.
When compost is used on those acres, it
adds high-carbon organic matter and
inoculates soil with beneficial microbes.
But soil disturbance releases stored
carbon to the atmosphere, adding to
global warming problems.
Though 8 inches or so may be more
typical, plows can turn soil to depths
of 20 inches or more.
Unfortunately, the deeper the plow depth,
the greater the carbon release.
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.
How does carbon move from upper soil
layers to deep-soil storage?
Subsurface biomass from trees and other
deep-rooted perennials offer long-term
Roots also provide pathways for water
transport of microbes.
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.
Deep-burrowing creatures also provide
water and microbial pathways.
Ants, subterranean termites, and
nightcrawlers can dig down several meters
into the soil, well below the deep-plow
Nightcrawlers also pull organic matter
into their burrows and deposit
nutrient-rich castings (manure).
Thanks to soil conservation and other
agricultural efforts, damaging emissions
from farming operations are dropping.
But farming is just one of many
opportunities for compost-delivered,
long-term carbon storage.
In the U.S. alone, there are 40 million
acres of lawns,
50 million acres of managed turf,
245.7 million acres managed by the
Bureau of Land Management,
plus millions of additional acres in
managed utility easements,
DOT easements, roadsides, and rest
local and state parks, and other public
and private greenspace.
Just a1% increase in soil organic matter
can add 10 more tons of additional
carbon storage on each of those acres.
That’s about a ¼-inch compost
Diverting organic waste for composting
and compost use carries the dual benefit
of sequestering carbon and ...
preempting methane off-gassing from
One product. Many benefits. Superior results.
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 www.mcgillcompost.com.
Transforming waste. Rebuilding soils.®