Soil, The Infrastructure and the CO2 Problem
Our soils are in much worse condition. The mycorrhizal fungi which are the highway, the railway, and the internet systems of the soil has been sliced and diced by tillage, poisoned by the cides and overuse of synthetic fertilizers. Worst of all, we starve it to death by our overwinter fallow farming system.
The mycorrhizal fungi is an obligate symbiotic to green photosynthesizing plants. If the plant goes dormant, the fungus goes dormant and if the plant dies, is killed or is removed, the fungus dies. We humans are slowly committing suicide by our ignorance of the functions of the fungi in the soil. The function of the fungus is to transport carbon in the form of specific sugars to the organisms in the soil that are mining the minerals and capturing nitrogen from the air putting both of these in formulations ordered and needed by the plant. The fungus then transports these nutrients back to the plant. The fungus possesses a bidirectional transport system. The byproduct of this mining and trade zone is the buildup of humus (organic matter). This humus can last in the soil for hundreds of years if left un-tilled. Christine Jones PHD, calls this organic matter increase the liquid carbon pathway. It is the swiftest way to reverse the carbon cycle-air to soil instead of soil to air. The fungi are the infrastructure of the soil.
The plants developed roots to keep them anchored in one place when in the water (oceans, lakes, rivers). The roots were bathed in nutrients and did not develop the ability to search for minerals. The fungus partnered (symbiosis) with the plant trading minerals for sugar. The fungus was the first of the two to leave the water for land. This enabled the plants to soon follow.
In his book, Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond stated he thought the Biblical story of Adam and Eve to be a parable for man’s taking up agriculture. Decreasing human, animal and plant health and productivity were all caused by our destruction of the infrastructure of the soil. This all started when Eve bit the apple. Sorry ladies, it’s all your fault.
This doomsday agricultural path we have been on for approximately 7-10 thousand years can surprisingly be corrected.
If you are farming: 1. Stop tillage/use no till practices 2. Stop the use of cides and synthetic fertilizers 3. Initiate cover cropping. Number 2 and number 3 must be initiated together. Grazing the cover crops by livestock hastens the increase of organic matter.
If you are ranching: 1. Stop set stocking (turn out in the spring/gather in the fall, often called selective grazing) 2. Implement rotational or as one of the founding fathers of the movement calls it RATIONAL grazing. Definition is intensely stocked and grazed by large numbers of livestock moved quickly allowing for long recovery periods of the plants.
If any of this is unfamiliar to you read, attend meetings and search on the internet. If you don’t, you will be left in the dust of a dying and decaying corporate, chemical based agriculture.
If you choose to make these changes in your farming or ranching, you will:
1. Net more money with less labor and inputs.
2. You will drought proof your farm/ranch. By correcting the carbon cycle you also correct the water cycle. Humus holds 20-30 times its weight in water.
3. Refill the aquifers. Humus formation causes clumping of the soil, therefore, allowing water to percolate deep into the aquifers and lowers top soil loss via erosion.
4. Improve the health of all who consume your production, plant or animal. You do this two ways—1. The plants receive the correct nutrition therefore they are healthy, the livestock that consume them are healthy and therefore we are healthy. Because we are receiving balanced vitamins, minerals, proteins and carbohydrates in forms we need and can assimilate. 2. We remove the cides from the production system, therefore, removing poisons from the food chain.
In my opinion, there is more than enough minerals (fertilizer) in the soil to last until the sun burns out, approximately 3-4 billion years. The plants were much more abundant when the dinosaurs roamed and still more abundant when man took up agriculture and they fed millions possibly billions more herbivores.
The end I had written for this article was to show how the liquid carbon pathway could lower the CO2 in the atmosphere and therefore stop global change plus increase the organic matter (carbon) in the soil.
But again to paraphrase Tom Hanks in Apollo 13 “earth we have a problem”. I discovered if we took all the CO2 from the atmosphere plus all CO2 derived from burning all known fossil fuel reserves there would not be enough carbon to increase the soil organic matter of all agricultural land worldwide from the 2% average today to the 10% needed. That was a shocker! The next discovery was so basic to understanding the problem of global change that I can only say-never underestimate human stupidity. I include myself in this statement.
According to those who study such things, the following are thought to be true.
1. At levels of 200 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere plant growth slows.
2. At 150 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere most plants die.
3. Most plant life today would grow best between 1,000—2,000 ppm of CO2.
4. Levels of CO2 in submarines are tolerated up to 8,000 ppm with no health consequences therefore toxicity to mammals at these levels is not a problem.
5. 500-600 million years ago when our predecessors developed CO2 levels were much higher than today.
7. 300 million years past another ice age occurred and the CO2 concentration was the lowest ever measured—180 ppm. These major ice ages, one with high CO2 and the other with low CO2 show no correlation of CO2 levels and global change. PLANT LIFE ALMOST CAME TO AN END and in my opinion would have if not for the white rot fungus. The fungus developed an enzyme to digest wood, releasing CO2 into the atmosphere and ending coal bed formation.
How did we get from 7,000 ppm CO2 concentration in the atmosphere to today at 400 ppm? Around 550 million years past marine life learned to combine calcium and CO2 to form exoskeletons (shells) for their protection. Today over 99% of all CO2 ever produced is tied up in limestone sediment, a product of the marine life cycle.
In the two major previous ice ages earths average temperatures were around 12 degrees centigrade (53 degrees Fahrenheit). Today, meaning the last few hundred years we have been close to this temperature again and today meaning now we are at about 14 degrees centigrade. In the National Geographic News article titled “Sahara Dessert Greening Due to Climate Change” essentially says warmer air carries more moisture and therefore more rain over parts of the dessert producing more vegetation. Maybe, Maybe not.
We are experiencing global change when we should be in an ice age. Why? In what you have read to this point, research supports. From here forward is theory, some would say speculation. The truth is probably somewhere in between.
Until about 20 million years ago the earth with the exception of the ice age 300 million years ago had much higher levels of CO2. We have existed and developed as a species in a very low CO2 environment. This extreme CO2 deficiency combined with incorrect agricultural practices have turned 2/3-3/4 of the earth’s landmass into dessert.
If we must blame someone or something for this global change, the culprit, I believe would be marine life.
Provide plants carbon and they will turn the desserts green. The greening of the Sahara I believe is due to the CO2 raising from 280 ppm pre- industrial to 400 ppm today.
We now possess the knowledge and ability through the application of correct agricultural practices and the liquid carbon pathway to build topsoil, increasing organic matter close to 1% per year. We need our soils to be 10% organic matter and above to produce abundant, healthy crops. We have no idea how much faster this could occur if the CO2 levels were 1,000 ppm or more.
At this time none of the above matters for we do not have enough carbon in the form of CO2 to hardly begin. It appears the solution rests in finding a way to release the CO2 from the limestone deposits and are there enough of these deposits available?
Yes, CO2 is the cause of global change, but not because it is too high, it is because the CO2 levels are too low.
1. The higher CO2 levels become, the faster plants grow. Therefore, the liquid carbon pathway stores more carbon in the ground. Does the same occur for the marine species?
2. One-third of all man-made CO2 occurred in the last 18 years.
3. The average temperature of the earth is determined from 26 stations. Four located in the South Pole the remainder in the North Pole. Average ?
4. Ice mass in the North Pole is decreasing, ice mass in the South Pole is increasing.
5. We have 50 years of topsoil left.
6. Although there is no correlation between CO2 levels and global change, there is a huge and direct correlation between the availability of electricity and the standard of living. We must stop suppressing the use of fossil fuels for energy production. The most idiotic suicidal idea existing today is the capturing of the CO2 emissions and pumping them deep into the earth. Plants need the CO2 emissions.
All life on earth is based on carbon. We need much more available carbon. Quite a puzzle we have to solve. We have 12 grandchildren-let’s get started.
2. Elaine Ingham, PHD
3. Michael Amaranthus, PHD
4. 2015 Annual Global Warming Policy Foundation Lecture, Patrick Moore, PHD
Greentrees Hydroponics CO2 Calculator
Carbon Dioxide Enrichment Methods
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
Carbon Dioxide By Professor Richard Corsi at UT Austin
Carboniferous Climate By Monte Hieb 3/21/09