A Climate Change Solution Beneath Our Feet – from UC Davis

From UC Davis

There’s too much carbon in the atmosphere and not enough in the ground where it’s useful.

When we think of climate change solutions, what typically comes to mind is the transportation we use, the lights in our home, the buildings we power and the food we eat. Rarely do we think about the ground beneath our feet.

Sheep from Skyelark Ranch graze a field planted with a cover crop in Brooks, Calif. The grazing encourages plants to grow and capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.

Looking across the landscape on a spring day at Russell Ranch Sustainable Agricultural Facility, most people would simply see a flat, mostly barren field. But Scow—a microbial ecologist and director of this experimental farm at the University of California, Davis— sees a living being brimming with potential. The soil beneath this field doesn’t just hold living things—it is itself alive.

Scow likens soil to the human body with its own system of “organs” working together for its overall health. And, like us, it needs good food, water and care to live up to its full potential.

Farmers and gardeners have long sung the praises of soil. For the rest of us, it’s practically invisible. But a greater awareness of soil’s ability to sequester carbon and act as a defense against climate change is earning new attention and admiration for a resource most of us treat like dirt.

Soil can potentially store between 1.5 to 5.5 billion tons of carbon a year globally. That’s equivalent to between 5 and 20 billion tons of carbon dioxide. While significant, that’s still just a fraction of the 32 billion tons of carbon dioxide emitted every year from burning fossil fuels.

So soil is one bite of a big platter of solutions needed to confront climate change.

But the nice thing about healthy soils, Scow said, is that creating them not only helps fight climate change — it also brings multiple benefits for agricultural, human and environmental health.

“With soil, there’s so much going on that is so close to us, that’s so interesting and multifaceted, that affects our lives in so many ways — and it’s just lying there beneath our feet,” she said.

To continue reading, see the original post on the UC Davis site here.

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