Soil Carbon Simplified

July 1, 2021

What is soil carbon sequestration?

Soil carbon sequestration is a nature-based solution using the natural photosynthesis process of plants to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in the soil and plant root systems.

How do sustainable agriculture projects work?

Sustainable agriculture projects can help increase the amount of carbon stored by plants. These projects utilize conservation practices, including no- or low-tillage, livestock integration (manure/grazing), cover crops, reduced fertilizer usage, no post-harvest root removal and increased plant diversity.

Some programs go even further to promote carbon sequestration, such as treating with a soil amendment. Soil amendments can increase root size, nutrient uptake and the amount of carbon stored in the plants. These practices also reduce the amount of nitrous oxide produced by the farmers.

Why is soil carbon sequestration important?

Historically, agriculture has been a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The sheer scale of the industry presents an opportunity to take meaningful action on climate change. With more incentives for farmers to adopt sustainable practices, we can create a positive impact on our nation’s emissions.

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During a plant’s photosynthesis cycle, it captures carbon dioxide from the air and water from the soil to use as food. The plant turns the CO2 into carbohydrates (sugars) and releases the sugars through their roots. Microorganisms in the soil feed on the carbon-based compounds. Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere enters into the soil through the root secretions, the organisms that feed on the secretions or other decomposing plant matter.

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Sustainable agriculture projects utilize farming methods that capture and store more carbon in the soil. Practices such as low- or no-till farming and no post-harvest root removal leave soil carbon undisturbed, while soil amendments increase root size and photosynthesis (along with other benefits). When combined together, these practices can remove up to three times as much carbon compared to other farming practices.

Sustainable Agriculture Project Map

This article is contributed by

Emily Six
As Marketing and Communications Manager for Bluesource, Emily collaborates with the team to provide internal and external content and communications. She likes coffee, plants, wine, and the Oxford comma.

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