Soils hold 4 times more carbon than all plants on top of the Earth! “Great,” you say, “and how does that affect my daily life?”
Carbon is a greenhouse gas. Locking it up in the soil not only keeps it out of the air but is also highly beneficial to plant health. That dark, rich stuff in your garden soil is the stored carbon…
Plants suck in Carbon Dioxide (CO2) through their leaves, lock up the carbon as woody material and breathe back out the oxygen that we consume. Great relationship. Well, a lot of that carbon makes its way down into the soil via plant roots where it gets stored. So much, in fact, that our soils are tremendous carbon “sinks” (the scientific community calls this process “carbon sequestration”).
We have a problem though, people like to use carbon from the soil which frees it up faster than the trees can take it back in. How do we do this? By using coal, and oil, and taking down our trees. We then burn or cut up the carbon (i.e. power plants, cars, or building our homes) and it floats around in the atmosphere where we call it a greenhouse gas.
In the landscape business, our peers free up lots of carbon in the soil by our use of high synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. That is compounded by the use of insecticides, which kills soil life. It is a complex equation but suffice it to say that the battle lines we draw against Nature are counterproductive to Nature’s plan, which is to deliver to us a balanced environment, free of charge!
But we have an opportunity and that is to switch from synthetic fertilizers to organic fertilizers and STOP using any insecticides! It is really that simple. If all of our peers would do this, we could use millions of acres of manicured lawns as carbon sinks. We, the horticultural community, could actually be solving the global warming issue instead of adding to it! Sounds crazy but it is true.
For a greater understanding of what is happening, read this very well written blog. And, get your lawn and plants onto the organic kick! It is not only good for your plants but it is also good for the critters in your soil, the people that live there and, as we are finding out, the greater global good!