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.
Plants are made-up of many components which each play an important role in the plants’ functioning. The part with the most important role of all is the leaf. This is where the core of the plants defensive and growth systems are initiated.
As a farmer, your primary use for soil is for growing crops. Soil fulfils this function by being an anchor for plant roots and a store for water and nutrients. One of the soil properties that ensure that this happens effectively is soil structure.
So what is soil and how can it sequester carbon? Soil is a living miracle. In one handful of soil; there are more organisms than there are humans on earth. We are now only beginning to understand this vast network of beings right under our feet.
The original source of carbon in the roots is atmospheric carbon dioxide. Photosynthesis is a process which everyone has heard of, and probably studied at school, but I don’t think we fully realise and appreciate its uniqueness and value.
Farmers that implement sustainable land-management practices can improve the carbon levels of their soils, thereby moving carbon from the atmosphere through plants into the soil.
The soil-water relationship is an interesting one. Water is more often than not the limiting factor in this relationship, but could our soils also be adding to the water shortage problems?
Bacteria are one of the most abundant and widely studied microorganisms in soil. Microbiologists estimate that one teaspoon of soil can contain up to as many as 1-100 million individual bacteria and a hectare can contain up to 10 billion.