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Soil 101 The Basics

The role of soil in mitigating climate change.

Paicines Ranch

on 19 February 2015

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Transcript of Soil 101 The Basics

Soil 101
The Basics
Soil is the upper layer of the earth's surface, where plants grow and is composed of minerals and microorganisms.
Soil sustains all life on earth.
Just as we need good food to eat, plants need good soil to grow. It provides the nourishment for plants, creating the basis for everything humans need to live: food, flora, fiber, and fuel.
After oceans, which cover 70% of the earth's surface, soil is our largest opportunity to naturally capture excessive carbon dioxide from our atmosphere through plant photosynthesis and reduce global warming.
Soil simultaneously boosts agricultural productivity, enhances water capture and sequesters atmospheric carbon.
A single teaspoon (1 gram) of rich garden soil can hold up to one billion bacteria, several yards of fungal filaments, several thousand protozoa, and scores of nematodes.
Soil acts as a "carbon sink" by drawing down carbon from the atmosphere and storing it deep underground.
Soil moisture is the hub for terrestrial life, including the economies and infrastructures of human civilizations.
Kathy Merrifield
Oregon State University
image: Kiss the Ground http://www.thesoilstory.com
image: Civil Eats http://civileats.com
image: Peter Donovan http://soilcarboncoalition.org
image: Peter Donovan http://soilcarboncoalition.org

The water holding capacity of our farm land has been reduced by the loss of carbon in our soils. Enhancing soil carbon increases the land’s water holding capacity and “plant available water,” thus protecting vegetation from drought and effectively
increasing the total
water storage
capacity of the
Major flows in the fast, active carbon cycle.
Major flows of water cycling.
Peter Donovan
Plants derive their nutrients from the soil and its microorganisms. Soil teeming with a wide diversity of life (especially bacteria, fungi, and nematodes) is more likely to produce nutrient-dense food. This cooperation between bacteria, fungi, and plants' roots is responsible for transferring carbon and nutrients from the soil to the plant--and eventually to our plates. Ultimately, human health depends upon the nutrients from plants.
Common agricultural practices, including tilling the soil, over-grazing, using fossil fuel based fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides result in significant carbon dioxide release
into the
Carbon Cycle Institute
Regenerative farming and management of land can store carbon long term (decades to centuries or more) beneficially in soils.
Carbon Cycle Institute
image: Jack Morris, photo by his mama, Julie Finigan Morris
Plants are producing less nutrient dense food due to decreased microorganisms
and nutrients in our soil. Chemicals that decrease microbial diversity in plants will, in turn, decrease the nutritional value
of our food.
Soil holds 2.5 trillion tons of carbon, compared with 800 billion tons in the atmosphere and 560 billion tons in plants and animals. Soil expert Rattan Lal estimates that with effective land management, we can build carbon in soil by 1-3 billion tons per year – that equals approximately 3.5-11 billion tons of carbon dioxide or 1/3 of all human-generated carbon emissions annually.

J. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet, p. 15.
If only 14 percent of the world's cropland improved its community of soil microorganisms to the levels observed in research trials, the amount of carbon sequestered in the soil would offset all our current emissions of carbon dioxide.

Kristin Ohlson, The Soil Will Save Us, p. 233.
David Johnson, New Mexico State University
Daphne Miller, MD
How To Eat Like Our Lives Depend It
Daphne Miller, MD
How To Eat Like Our Lives Depend It
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