Climate change is a serious threat these days, especially for farmers. Farmers are on the front lines of nature and are often the first affected by the changes before anyone else even begins to notice them. Year after year of low rainfall and raging summer heat, even wildfires, have been on a lot of farmers’ minds lately. Many are fighting back though, and there are ways that you can both help your crops right now and help the environment for the future.
Soil carbon sequestration is one way to reduce carbon and improve the condition of your soil at the same time. According to the Yale School of Environment’s E360, carbon sequestration refers to soil’s capacity for storing carbon under the earth.
Many of our farming practices used after the industrial revolution released carbon from the earth at high levels, but researchers have found that this process can actually be reversed. The result is not only less CO2 in our atmosphere but also healthier and more productive soil. Here are some ways you can start with your own farm:
1. Cover crops keep roots in the soil instead of letting the field go fallow. Not only does this increase carbon retention, but it also crowds out weeds, prevents soil erosion and can help control pests. Adding a cover crop can also add to the biodiversity of your field, and many, like clover and vetch, attract pollinators that are beneficial to your other plants as well. Other cover crop options include rye, sudangrass, sorghum and mustard.
2. Biochar can restore carbon to the soil and enhance its richness as well. Biochar can be made by adding organic materials, such as wood and feedstock, to a pit or low-lying area, burning it and covering it. Cover your biochar while it’s burning to starve the coals of oxygen so the process will retain even more carbon. Biochar results in a carbon-rich area that rejuvenates the soil. Be careful not to overuse biochar, as it can cause soil compaction and adversely affect worms, which are important for soil aeration and enrichment. If you decide to make biochar, be selective about your area and give it plenty of time to mature.
3. Microbials are another way farmers can retain carbon in the soil and strengthen crops at the same time. The soil microbial community plays a major role in carbon cycling and has been considered as the main driver in the potential to store carbon in soils. The composition of the soil microbial community is crucial for the maintenance of soil ecosystem services, as the structure and activity of microbes also regulates the turnover and delivery of nutrients, as well as the rate of decomposition of soil organic matter. The plants are more drought-resistant, due to the higher soil integrity and increased retention of nutrients.
Agriculture has changed and evolved in so many ways since its conception. Farmers are some of the most adaptable and perceptive people on earth, not only able to tap into the resources available through the soil and plants but also to understand the needs of the growing things around them. Carbon sequestration may sound new, but the idea of keeping our soil healthy and our plants thriving is nothing new to farmers. Adopting the best practices, whether no-till, cover crop, biochar enrichment or mycorrhizae symbiosis, is something cutting-edge farmers see as a way to provide the best practices not only for their present crops but also to ensure the healthy future of our natural environment.
At Worm Power, we want to be a part of your sustainable solution, offering you organic, chemical-free products that you can depend on year after year to enhance the health of your soil and your plants. Visit our website or contact us to learn more about us and our products.