Carbon Sequestration

Increasing your soil microbes increases carbon sequestration. Carbon is stored in the soil as “humic materials” i.e. C,N,P,K etc.; rich organic matter which is the soil organic carbon or sequestered carbon in the soil. ­­­­­

The formation of humus, the final stable carbon, is a stepwise process. All organic carbon in soil comes from plants, either directly or via digested plant material. It starts with plant material being digested by soil microbes, or in the case of brown manure, being predigested by animals and further digested by microbes. The breakdown process begins with soil fungi and bacteria. As these microbes are fed carbon, they multiply. If fresh carbon stores are not utilized, they become attached to soil particles and become stored, therefore, less available as food sources. As microbes die, if they are not immediately cannibalized, their remains also become part of the more recalcitrant humic material.

Slowly, this humic material, which is as much as 80% the bodies of dead microbes, builds up. We measure it as soil organic carbon (SOC) and it reflects the carbon sequestered in the soil, but it also contains all the minerals and other plant nutrients. To increase SOC, the fresh organic matter required to feed the microbes and in turn the plant via the microbes, there needs to be an excess of the minimum required for a low microbial population. If there is an excess, the microbial population increases, and their dead bodies will increase the humic matter, in return increasing carbon sequestration. If it is not adequate, the soil microbes will be stimulated by the plant to mine the stored organic matter, which will decrease the stored carbon. It is not surprising that scientists have compared the plant/microbe/soil fertility index to economic models. A rich soil, like a rich man, has money in his pocket and money in the bank, for soil the currency is carbon.

This system is very much like our agricultural complex. There is fresh food, which we utilize within days, food we freeze or can, which requires freezers and can openers to access, and food stores (our sequestered carbon) that we maintain in silos as protection against disaster.

How much carbon can be stored by increasing your soil microbes?

microBIOMETER® reports the microbial biomass as ug of microbial carbon/gram of soil. The chart pictured here shows how much carbon can be stored in an acre just by increasing microbial biomass alone. (Chemically fertilized farmland averages about 100 ug/microbial C/g of soil.)

Microbial biomass is the best single estimate of soil quality. It is the bodies of dead microbes that build humus/soil organic carbon, returning carbon to the soil and building soil structure which prevents erosion and pollutant run off. (Chemical nitrogen fertilizers have been shown to inhibit microbial biomass.)

The literature reports that lab measurements of soil organic carbon are not sufficiently accurate in monitoring an increase in carbon sequestration in less than 3 years but that a yearly increase in microbial biomass can indicate that the process of carbon accumulation is occurring.

microBIOMETER® has been used to demonstrate increases in soil carbon due to increases in microbial biomass on the Apple campus in Texas and for 3 years by the NYC Arts and Science Carbon Sponge Project.

Source: Direct evidence for microbial-derived soil organic matter formation and its ecophysiological controls.

Why is microBIOMETER® the best test for soil health?

soil health testUntil now tests for microbial biomass were expensive and time consuming. microBIOMETER® costs $13.50 or less and takes 20 minutes with results read by your cell phone.

* Only microBIOMETER® identified soil health in a U. of Tennessee study of soil health test methods including Cornell, USDA, Alabama and other soil health panels costing ten times as much.

* There are >2 million academic articles that use microbial biomass laboratory tests as proof of soil health. However, lab tests cost $100 – $500. microBIOMETER® takes 20 minutes at an average of $10/test.

* Soil microbes quickly die when removed from the soil. microBIOMETER® reveals the microbial biomass of your soil as it exists. Lab tests use dried soil and we have demonstrated that 80% of microbes die upon drying.

* The low cost and simplicity of microBIOMETER® means you can use it to monitor what is happening in time to make necessary corrections.

* microBIOMETER® can tell you if you are increasing your soil organic carbon. For instance, an increase in microbial biomass of 100 ug MBC/g per acre of agricultural land is equal to an elephant’s weight in microbial biomass, which is about 400 lbs of microbial carbon or >1450 lbs of CO2 equivalents. This can be accomplished by switching from heavy chemical fertilizer use to regenerative practices.