Soil Sucks! But Does it Suck Enough to Save the Planet?

Good, healthy soil can sequester carbon from the atmosphere leading many to speculate its viability as a solution to mitigate our climate crisis.

Turns out, if you treat soil right and let it thrive, it has the incredible ability to sequester carbon from the atmosphere!

While we've been inventing huge filtering machines to capture our emissions, plants have been doing this since day one, using photosynthesis to turn CO2 back into carbon for the earth and oxygen for the air.

Tapping into this renewed interest in soil health, a small but burgeoning revolution in farming is taking place—one that puts the soil and its ability to absorb and hold carbon first.

These carbon farms have discovered that by prioritizing soil, their crop yields are exponentially greater, far more sustainable, and organic to boot! It's speculated that if carbon farming practices are adopted widely enough, we could wind up removing billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

So what's stopping this from happening?

While soil's ability to sequester carbon is irrefutable, things get complicated when you start thinking long-term. Maintaining soil's ability to store the carbon it's absorbed is a remarkably complex task—one that requires far more work and knowledge than simply applying a blanket of fertilizer every year.

For most farmers, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet due to industrial farming and a globalized market, it's simply not worth the risk.

We also just don't really have the infrastructure needed to support carbon farms on any significant scale. The amount of compost required to make this happen would demand a complete overhaul of our waste system.

As it stands, Americans absolutely suck at eliminating garbage responsibly. That said, can you imagine the risk involved with using our own municipal compost? I don't even trust my roommates to compost right.

On top of that, there's still a lot we don't know about soil's ability to hold onto its carbon stores. How long can it actually store it for? What might trigger that carbon to release? Is there a saturation point? What happens is there is one?

While the jury's still out, soil is still incredibly (and literally) fertile ground for exploring possible climate solutions. It'll be exciting to see if we can continue to figure out and build viable systems that support these farmers and scientists for a truly sustainable future.

To read an excellent account of one California farmer's voyage into becoming a carbon farming pioneer, check out the link below:

Read more on The New York Times.