Decrease carbon in atmosphere by increasing carbon in soil

Better soils
with Brett Petersen
Kiwi Fertiliser & Golden Bay Dolomite

This article continues information on how to cut carbon dioxide emissions by adopting simple strategies. Pasture can sequester more than enough carbon to reverse the situation we live with now, which is leaking carbon from our pastoral and cropping land into the atmosphere.

Why should we pay $1.4 billion for the next 10 years to do so when there is no need to? Can you name another country that is taking this view? There are several ways of building humus in soils.

Humates from a humus-building perspective are the most important of all farm inputs. Humic acid is the most powerful known stimulant of the cellulose-digesting fungi that build stable humus. It holds seven times its own weight in water.

Humates improve root growth, soil structure and buffer the dehydrating biocidal impact of salt fertilisers. Humates have the ability to magnify nutrient uptake by one third, via a phenomenon called ‘increased cell sensitisation’. Soluble humic acid granules can be combined with fertilisers at the rate of five per cent.

Composting needs to become standard practice wherever possible. Composting involves the conversion of organic matter into stable humus. When we add compost to a soil it stimulates and regenerates the soil life responsible for building humus. We do not just add some stable humus to our soil with the compost; we trigger the existing soil life to build humus much more rapidly. However, only properly made compost is beneficial.

Humus-rich topsoil

Biochar is based upon the discovery of terra preta soils in the Amazon that seem to be self-generating and expanding. They feature humus-rich topsoil metres deep and they expand out beyond the villages from which they originated. It has been found that this remarkable fertility appears to originate from charcoal that was added to the soil from cooking fires.

On the basis of this finding, the concept of manufacturing biochar as a humus-building soil additive has attracted considerable interest and research. Smaller particles disappear into soil quicker, mixing more thoroughly and in­timately with soil particles and organisms. Thus, crushing, grinding and screening char are valuable to increase char’s dis­persal throughout soil and optimise its effects on soil structure, ion absorption and microbial colonisation.

The soil glue that stabilises topsoil is humus. We have lost two thirds of our humus as a result of industrial, extractive agriculture and it is now time to address that issue. The words ‘human’ and ‘humus’ mean the same thing, ‘of and for the earth’. If our core purpose is to nurture and sustain the precious soil that supports us, then we have strayed from our path.

Ending global warming

Below is an extract from Hugh Lovel, a very talented American sustainable farming consultant who lives in NSW, entitled ‘Ending Global Warming’.

“Change in agriculture is up against the likes of DC Edmeades, Hamilton, New Zealand, author of a lengthy paper entitled ‘Pseudo-science: a threat to agriculture?’ Edmeades brandishes the buzzword ‘pseudo-science’ 37 times in a 10-page paper on Dr Christine Jones’ admirable work on soil microbiology, cultivation, artificial nitrogen fertilisation and carbon sequestration—topics much in need of investigation if we are to arrest the alarming weather trends threatening our economy, safety and well-being.” You can read the full article on the Kiwi Fertiliser website.

http://www.mannkal.org/downloads/environment/2011conferenceinvitedp.pdf

Soil-friendly farming

Regardless of your personal beliefs, we can improve productivity and reduce the potential for climate change by adopting soil-friendly farming practices. Some of these changes are only visible through microscopes.

Others are so subtle they are barely noticeable to the naked eye. Yet others are really fast to show up. Sooner or later they lead to a massive reduction of toxic rescue remedies and an improvement in quality of produce, stock health and production. It is increasingly important to carry out life-enhancing practices rather than life-destroying activities such as toxic sprays. If you must use the latter, please add a carbon source to them. This makes it easier for the microbes to detoxify them.

Acknowledgement to Graeme Sait, Nutri-tech Solutions, of Yandina, Queensland and to Acres USA.

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