Permaculture forum: Carbon: Out of the atmosphere and into the soil.

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Charter ATP Member
Aug 24, 2014 6:12 AM CST

An overview of carbon soil building.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
Frugal Gardener Garden Procrastinator I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest
Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database.
Sep 4, 2014 6:48 PM CST
A good article, thanks.

It sounds like "moving cattle around" is beneficial because it lets grassland recover during "rest periods". I think there is a common theme in many ecologically wise actions: use the land less intensively.

That seems to conflict with short-term greed, which I've begun to think is all that is considered by any business. Even when intensive management for short-term profit can be shown to be a long-term guarantee of NO profit, short-term maximizing seems always to win the day. Like businesses that will alienate customers for life to make 1% more on a transaction.

Why do we do that so consistently?

One thing I didn't see in the parts about sequestering carbon in soil is that it is hard to keep more than around 5% organic matter in aerated soils, long-term. I understand the climate advantage to bringing very infertile, inorganic soil up to 5% organic matter, but can much be done with fertile soil to hold more carbon than it already is?

I may not understand biochar, but it sounds like turning OM to charcoal, which could be stored anywhere, not just in soil.

Say "average soil" was 1.5 grams per cubic cm.
5% OM would be 0.075 grams OM / cm^3.
That's 75 Kg OM per cubic meter (if I got the decimal pints right).

Say the OM was distributed in the top 50 cm (20 inches).
One square kilometer half a meter deep is 500,000 cubic meters, or
37.5 million Kg OM per square Km.

Say 37 thousand metric tons of OM could be sequestered per square Km.
And we have a lot of square Km in our deserts!
I hope I did get the decimal points in the right places.

Charter ATP Member
Sep 5, 2014 10:39 AM CST
What I got out of this is that any organic matter you have needs to go back to the soil, preferably on top of it, to work its own way down. Since i don't have cows anymore, it seemed to me that was the main point of the article. I know about the archaeological biochar finds, but I dont really see an advantage to using the intermediate charcoal step to sequestering carbon. When I did live on a farm, we never grazed our cows in the same place continuously. In fact it was my job "take take the cows to pasture". Sometimes it would be to the woods, and sometimes to the swamps along the river, and sometimes it would just be to one of the hay fields behind our house. My grandfather even rented National Park land along the river to pasture his cows. Doesn't everybody know that cows need pasture? And that they need to be moved from one pasture to another throughout the year?

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