Did you know that after the ocean, soil is the biggest carbon sink on the planet?
In school we learn that trees and plants absorb carbon dioxide and release the oxygen that we then breathe. But have you ever given much thought to what happens to the carbon after it has been absorbed?
It becomes plant food!
The carbon the plants have just absorbed is processed into sugar, which transforms it from a gas to a liquid. Some of this liquid carbon is utilized by the plant, but the rest flows down into the root system, where it is released into the soil.
And here is where things get really interesting. There is this beautiful symbiosis going on beneath our feet, where the liquid carbon transforms into a solid, and is taken up by the microbiota—bacteria and fungi—that make up healthy soil.
The microbiota returns the favour by releasing minerals and trace elements that feed roots, encourage worms, build soil, and deliver the taste and nutrition to our food that we need to stay healthy and ward off disease.
You can’t get nutrient dense food from nutrient deficient soil.
Except it is our soil that is taking the worst beating in conventional agriculture. With technological advances in the early 20th century came new machinery that compressed and hardened the soil. Farmers increased the size of their fields and made cropping more specialised, which equated to less biodiversity. Advances in the manufacture of nitrogen fertilisers made them abundant and affordable. Ammonium nitrate produced in WWII for munitions was then used for agriculture.
All of this, fed by a fear of how to feed massive population growth.
This is where biodynamic farming differs. The key focus of Biodynamic farming is to create and regenerate quality soil. We nurture the land with cow poo, compost and homeopathy. And it’s the quality of biodynamic soil that researchers are beginning to notice.
We recently came across a study done in America on biodynamic vineyards.
They discovered that vineyards farmed Biodynamically and Organically stored between 12.8% and 9.4% more carbon than conventional soil. Researchers also tested the surround forests near the vineyards. Unsurprisingly they discovered that this soil was the highest among all of the sites they studied.
Any biodynamic farm must leave at least 10% of the total acreage to wild area, for example forests or waterways. We have consciously allowed 30% of our farmland to regenerate back into rainforest.
We need to realise that we cannot change the trajectory of climate change if we don’t change the way we farm. We need to re-envision agriculture, not as a contributor to climate change, but as one of the remedies for it. Biodynamic farming techniques may help soil more effectively store carbon and, in turn, help slow the pace of climate change and rebalance the planet’s carbon system.
We would love to see more farms turn to regenerative agricultural methods.
Interested in reading more about it? Check out these great articles:
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!