Thursday, July 11, 2013

Carbon in the Dirt

A guest editorial Carbon Dioxide Under Our Feet in the Seattle Times reminded me that carbon in soil is no small thing.

While we look at the massive trees that grow in parts of our Washington landscape as taking up CO2, it is easy to forget that a lot of CO2 end up in the soil. By way of example even in western Washington prairie soils have thick organic rich zones that extend well below the surface relative to forested areas. 

Thick carbon rich soil in Mima mound in southwest Washington prairie
Montgomery and Robinette (Times editorial) mention no till farming as another means to keep CO2 in the soil. This approach is being tried at various places in eastern Washington dry land wheat with early results comparable to non till approaches and in some cases significantly lower costs. Certainly it has been demonstrated to work, but does represent a profound shift in how farming is done. 

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