A mere 2% increase in the carbon content of the planet’s soils could offset 100% of all greenhouse gas emissions going into the atmosphere.
― Dr. Rattan Lal, Professor of Soil Science, Ohio State University
The mission of the Soils Committee is to protect and regenerate soil health through education, advocacy, and political action in order to increase soil carbon sequestration and reduce atmospheric CO2 levels.
- Soil is one of the five main carbon sinks on Earth where carbon is stored (Lal 2007).
- Plants have been pulling CO2 from our atmosphere and storing it in the soil in various forms of sugars through the process of photosynthesis for about 500,000 million years. This is called “carbon sequestration”.
- Loss of soil carbon due to poor agricultural practices and deforestation, over the last 8,000 years, significantly contributes to the rising levels of atmospheric CO2 driving climate change (Ruddiman 2003; Schwartz 2014).
- By improving soil health, we can increase soil carbon sequestration and help lower atmospheric CO2 levels to below 350 ppm, which is the upper limit considered safe for human civilization, according to NASA climate scientist James E. Hansen and others.
- Regeneration of soil and reduction in atmospheric CO2 levels can occur within decades (Lal et al. 2004; Lal 2008; Savory Institute 2015).
Improving Soil Health
- Regenerative farming practices—including use of no-till, cover crops, and compost—protect the soil from exposure and oxidation of carbon and other nutrients, evaporation of water, and soil compaction.
- Regenerative ranching practices—planned rotational grazing practices that mimic the behavior of wild ruminant animals such as buffalo (bison)—build soil health by using animal manure as fertilizer, reducing soil compaction, stimulating plant and root growth, and increasing soil’s water-holding capacity, which reduces water runoff and pollution of nearby water systems.
- Improved forestry practices—selective tree harvesting or no harvesting—protect the soil from exposure and oxidation of carbon and other nutrients, evaporation of water, and forest biodiversity.
The Good News
According to soil experts, the potential of soil carbon sequestration is equivalent to what has been lost. Restoration of grasslands alone (40% of land surface area) could lower greenhouse gas emissions to preindustrial levels within decades (by returning 10 billion tons of excess CO2 to the soil annually) (Lal et al. 2004; Lal 2008; Savory Institute 2015).
That’s good news, right?
So, let's restore life to those vast stretches of overgrazed acres and denuded soil, including possibly that in your own backyard.