Soil Carbon Stash and other stories

wsdlogo_upd_en
From the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, via http://www.fao.org/world-soil-day/en/

In case you missed it, this past Tuesday, December 5th, was World Soil Day! (I realize I  commemorated it belatedly last year, too.) Maybe soil is a little like the heroine of “Sixteen Candles,” ignored on her birthday while chaos rages all around her. It’s easy to take soil for granted, even as it stands as this firmament beneath our feet. But don’t worry, soil, whether you’re caught in our fingernails or nitrogenating below a blanket of snow, plenty of folks are thinking about how awesome you are.

In the New York Times, Jacque Leslie wrote a cheerful editorial on the potential of managing agricultural soils for carbon storage. The Twitterverse brought it to my attention as one of my colleagues declared a resolution to begin worm composting in the New Year. (Does adding worms or worm castings to soil increase net soil carbon storage? Possibly.)

Red wigglers
Earthworms make terrific pets! Red wigglers! by Protopian Pickle Jar (2017), CC-BY-SA 2.0, on Flickr
https://flic.kr/p/V9yEc8

Marcia DeLonge at the Union of Concerned Scientists has a great blog post up with links to interesting soil news around the Web.

Sarah Laskow at Atlas Obscura describes how windborne dust contibutes nutrients to plants in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

At Forbes, Jeff McMahon explores the incentives Texas farmers could use to manage their property for carbon sequestration.

The amazing folks at the Land Institute in Salina, KS are doing some pretty nifty research on creating prairie agricultural ecosystems, including the development of perennial crops. These perennials plants help stash more soil organic matter conventional agriculture with annual plants. One of these perennial grains they’ve developed, Kernza, is now available fermented into beer!

4_seasons_roots
Comparison of wheat roots to those of Thinopyrum intermedium in four seasons
By Dehaan (Jerry Glover) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

We love you, soil. We might call you “dirt” sometimes, but we mean it fondly.

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