Good soil is a gift that keeps on giving. Communities flourish when the structure of their soil increases aeration, absorbs water, retains nutrients and allows beneficial microorganisms to thrive. Yet more than just establishing healthy crops and gardens, grasslands and golf greens, a robust soil structure may contribute to a lower CO2 in the atmosphere.
In the hopes of meeting the goals of a carbon-neutral European Union by 2050, the Teagasc is searching for strategies that aren’t going to disrupt farming communities while also contributing to the reduction of agricultural greenhouse gases. One possible solution is to encourage carbon sequestration in soil.
Here’s what you need to know about soil carbon capture and how Ascophyllum nodosum seaweed soil conditioner can make rich soil structure easier to maintain.
What Is Carbon Sequestration?
In laymen’s terms, carbon sequestration is what happens when CO2 is stored in any source outside of the atmosphere. Traditionally, when people talk about sequestering carbon, they think in terms of trees using and storing excess carbon dioxide as part of their photosynthesis cycle. However, the soil itself can act as an exceptional carbon sink, a fact which scientists are reexamining.
In the past, it was assumed that humus, the organic components of the soil created when plant material decomposed, was the driving force of durable sources of soil organic carbon. However, recent studies show humus exposed to the right microorganisms or enzymes breaks down and releases carbon on a much shorter timeline than originally imagined. What prevents greenhouse gas release are barriers to that breakdown – especially in the form of a robust soil structure.
For example, heavier clay soil is better at sequestering carbon because its structure is more likely to form aggregates that create barriers to microbial decomposition than sandier soil. Put simply, when microbes can’t reach soil organic matter, they can’t break it down.
Though the type of soil is one way to create barriers to decomposition, a soil conditioner can enhance the structure of subpar soil to slow down the process of decay by cultivating the richness of the soil microbial community (SMC). Microbes that receive an abundant amount of fiber, such as the polysaccharides found in Ascophyllum nodosum, flourish and multiply. When they do so, there is a twofold benefit:
- Plants can pass along greenhouse gases and other unused organic materials to their soil microbial community through a process called rhizodeposition, sequestering excess carbon.
- When microbes die in a prospering ecosystem, their dead tissue remains for a time as biomass and creates barriers for other microorganisms, slowing the process of decomposition that releases carbon into the atmosphere.
How Soil Conditioners Fight Climate Change
This is where the right soil conditioner has a role to play. Products like Titan® for Soil not only holds soil in place by improving the physical structure, but they also promote a rich microbial community. It’s those microbes that can breakdown compost so nutrients are released, which will then help to create more aggregates and barriers to retain some soil organic carbon.
Though there is more research to be conducted about how best to capture carbon in the soil, this is a promising approach that Irish farmers can easily implement as they work to enhance their growing conditions and replenish the nutrients in the soil.
Our Titan® for Soil does more than help with carbon sequestration in soil. See how the benefits of our soil conditioner can replenish the growing environment on your farm.