Carbon Dioxide

Agriculture as a possible way of sequestering carbon


Sequestering carbon dioxide

Many ways of sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere have been theorized. Carbon sequestration is the long-term storage of carbon in oceans, soils, vegetation (especially forests), and geologic formations. Oceans store most of the Earth’s carbon, soils contain approximately 75% of the carbon pool on land — three times more than the amount stored in living plants and animals. Therefore, soils can play a major role in maintaining a balanced global carbon cycle. The suggestion has been made use agriculture as a means of sequestering carbon by converting carbon dioxide into the carbonate products.

A non-technical method of carbon sequestration

The reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide can be accomplished by increasing the global storage of carbon in soils. Healthy soil pulls carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by photosynthesis. Through the process of photosynthesis, plants assimilate carbon and return some of the carbon as carbon dioxide to the atmosphere through respiration.

The primary way carbon is stored in the soil is as soil organic matter (SOM). SOM is a complex mixture of carbon compounds, consisting of decomposing plant and animal tissue, microbes (protozoa, nematodes, fungi, and bacteria), and carbon associated with soil minerals. Benefits of soil organic matter (SOM) include improvement of soil quality through increased retention of water and nutrients, resulting in greater productivity of plants in natural environments and agricultural settings.

Soil Health

Healthy soil can increase the amount of carbon which can be sequestered. Soil health can be improved in various ways. These include no till farming and the process of composting.

Notill farming is a way of growing crops or pasture from year to year without disturbing the soil through tillage. Tillage is the preparation of soil by mechanical agitation such as digging, stirring, and overturning. No-till farming increases water infiltration, protects the soil from water evaporation and increases organic matter and biological activity.

Compost is created by gathering plant material, such as leaves, grass clippings, and vegetable peels, into a pile or bin and letting the material decompose as a result of the action of aerobic bacteria, fungi, and other organisms. Compost adds nutrients, increases biological activity, and increases the soil’s ability to sequester carbon.

The opportunity at hand

15% of the world’s food is now grown in urban areas. Because only 5% of U.S. farmland currently uses no-till methods of farming, there is a large potential for carbon sequestration using this method. The huge opportunity exists for agriculture become an important solution to climate change in addition to being tantamount to our food supply.