Improving Soil Quality Might Slow Down Global Warming

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Considerable volumes of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases could be removed from the Earth’s atmosphere, slowing down global warming, by simply improving soil quality on farms and rangelands. At least, that’s the conclusion of a recent study conducted by the researchers from the University of California – Berkeley (UCB).

Well-implemented agricultural management practices, including planting cover crops and optimizing grazing, might absorb enough carbon from the Earth’s atmosphere to fight the harmful effects of global warming.

With the purpose to find out if such practices could indeed reduce the world’s average temperature by 0.1 degrees Celsius, the UCB researchers discovered that in combination with aggressive carbon emission reductions, agricultural management could even lower the temperature by 0.26 degrees Celsius.

Improving soil quality might slow down global warming

“As someone who has been working on carbon sequestration for a long time, I have always had this question in the back of my mind, ‘Will sequestration in soils make a difference with climate change at a global scale?’ We found that there is a wide range of practices deployable on a large scale that could have a detectable worldwide impact. A big take-home message is that we know how to do this, it is achievable,” stated Whendee Silver, a professor at UC Berkeley, and the study’s leading author.

Even more, when researchers added biochar, a soil additive based o charcoal, to the equation, the scientists revealed that to global average temperature might decrease by 0.46 degrees Celsius.

Regular agricultural management practices for improving soil quality “are very commonly used approaches, though people don’t use them to sequester carbon, as they are doing it for other reasons. Anytime you increase the organic content of soils, and you are generally increasing the fertility, water-holding capacity, sustainability, decreasing erosion and general resilience to climate change,” explained Silver. “Sequestering carbon is a side benefit,” the researcher added.


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