Scientists are studying how soil health affects climate change; healthy soil has been found to absorb carbon, improve water quality, support biodiversity and more. Soil acts as a natural water filter, removing pollutants and impurities. In addition, healthy soil can store more water, which can help to mitigate the effects of both drought and flooding. Scientists are studying this to learn how to improve soil health and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
Scientists Investigate How Soil Health Affects Our Planet’s Climate
Soil health has long been an important issue for farmers, as it impacts the productivity of crops. Over the last few decades though, scientists have increasingly recognized that soil health is also important for the health of the planet as a whole.
Healthy soil has been found to store more carbon, taking it out of the atmosphere and mitigating the effects of climate change. It also has the potential to provide better water quality and quantity, better nutrient cycling, and support biodiversity.
This has led to increasing research into how soil health impacts climate change. Here are some of the key findings.
Soil Carbon Sequestration
One of the most important ways that healthy soil impacts climate change is through carbon sequestration. When plants grow, they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and, through a process called photosynthesis, convert it into organic matter.
When that organic matter is added to the soil, it becomes a part of the soil’s carbon pool, where it can stay for decades or even centuries. This represents a significant amount of carbon storage that can help to slow the effects of climate change.
However, when soil is degraded or overused, that carbon pool is reduced, meaning less carbon is taken out of the atmosphere and more remains as a greenhouse gas.
Water Quality and Quantity
Healthy soil is also important for the quality and quantity of water in our environment. Soil acts as a natural water filter, removing pollutants and impurities as water moves through it.
In addition, healthy soil can store more water, which can help to mitigate the effects of both drought and flooding. This is particularly important as climate change leads to more extreme weather events across the globe.
Soil health is also essential to supporting biodiversity. A single teaspoon of healthy soil can contain billions of microorganisms, from bacteria and fungi to insects and worms.
These organisms play important roles in nutrient cycling, pest control, and even carbon sequestration, making them essential to a healthy ecosystem. When soil health is degraded, these organisms can be lost or become less effective, leading to a decline in biodiversity.
What is soil health?
Soil health refers to the ability of soil to support plant growth and maintain ecosystem function. Healthy soil has the structural and biological components necessary to support a range of organisms and maintain nutrient cycling, water cycling, and other ecosystem services.
Why is soil health important for climate change?
Healthy soil can store large amounts of carbon, taking it out of the atmosphere and mitigating the effects of climate change. It also helps to support water quality and quantity, and biodiversity, all of which are important for a healthy planet.
How can we improve soil health?
Improving soil health can involve a range of strategies, from reducing tillage to using cover crops, improving nutrient management, and reducing the use of pesticides and other chemicals. Each farm and ecosystem will require different strategies depending on its specific needs and circumstances.
Soil health is an essential component of a healthy planet. By supporting carbon sequestration, water quality and quantity, and biodiversity, healthy soil can help to mitigate the effects of climate change and provide a range of other ecosystem services. As such, it is essential that we continue to research and invest in strategies for improving soil health.