As gardeners, we all have a basic understanding that compost is good for the soil by stabilizing soil compounds. Doing this gives us the nutrients our crops need for healthy growth and consumption. On December 3, 2018, the University of Vermont released an eight-step guide to not only increase nutrient availability but also to increase the amount of sequestered carbon in the soil1.
Soil depends on carbon for stability
The goal of these steps is to stop soil degradation and restore what’s already been lost. One-third of the world’s soil is already degraded, allowing 500 gigatons of carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere. We’re led to believe that pollution from coal mines and greenhouse gases are to blame for our climates change. Stop for a minute and think about how much soil is unable to keep carbon out of the atmosphere. We’re losing as much carbon from soil degradation as is sequestered by 216 billion hectares of U.S. forest. We are a consumption-based society that gives little thought into how our actions affect our existence. New housing developments are popping up across the world, parking lots need to be created to manage all the vehicles driving around, and farms are disappearing.
Soil holds double the amount of carbon than trees and other biomass combined. If we were able to stabilize our farm operation numbers, we could also double the amount of carbon being removed from the atmosphere. Genetic engineering of our crops and rights to seed patents are wreaking havoc on our planet. Crops are designed to rely on one or two main sources of nutrition and are being overloaded by them in order to increase yields. Over time, the remaining nutrients disappear because they aren’t being replaced. Using no-till methods, cover-crops, and amending our soils with compost is the number one tool we have to restore soil quality.
New practices will change the future of farming
As farmers, it is our responsibility to take care of our land and ensure our products are safe and nutritional. Without farms, we don’t have food. As much as hydroponics is scientifically interesting, it does little to help in preventing climate change and feeding our growing populations. There is no replacement for traditional food production. Starting a compost pile, small or large, should be a general practice for all growers. We return to the soil what we do not consume. Little by little, changes to our farming practices will heal our land.
1. Cornelia Rumpel, Farshad Amiraslani, Lydie-Stella Koutika, Pete Smith, David Whitehead, Eva Wollenberg. Put more carbon in soils to meet Paris climate pledges. Nature, 2018; 564 (7734): 32DOI: 1