Rebecca Burgess, founder of the Fibershed project says that, “our soils have a carbon debt; the atmosphere is gushing with carbon. The carbon over our heads is literally in the wrong place” and this couldn’t be truer.
Keeping the soil covered is important for soil conservation. The abundance and diversity of food for soil organisms is what determines a soil’s natural productivity.
Graham’s keynote presentation, Managing N and C to maximise farm performance, truly resonated with the audience. Many of the farmers in attendance are already in transition towards sustainable farming while others are not quite there yet.
The ultimate goal is a healthy soil, with a fully functioning soil food web. One of the important steps in achieving this is ensuring the correct diet for the microbes which make up the full food web.
I would hope that by now most farmers have heard that building soil carbon has huge advantages. Both from a productivity and an environmental perspective. How do you go about building soil carbon?
Carbon is one of the indicators that can be used to test for soil health. Soils with higher soil carbon are usually indicative of healthy soil. Those with low carbon indicate the opposite. Watch this simple demonstration showing how to test for carbon in soil.
Soil carbon helps with moisture retention and can get you through dry periods. Farm management practices should be wired towards sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere!
These two very simple visual assessments can give farmers an idea of how good the structure of the soil is on their farms. They are also a good demonstration of the benefits of soil carbon and how carbon contributes to well aggregated soil.
Each percentage increase in soil carbon results in 230 818 more litres of water stored per hectare. That is a massive amount of water. Increasing soil carbon levels is therefore a key factor to improving water use efficiency on farms.
This is part of the reason why Trace & Save initiated the carbon farming project. It is a central place where information on sustainable farm management can be transferred, a place where the commonality is caring for our soils and their health. Caring for our soils is caring for the future.