Dr. Kristine Nichols talks about soil, carbon sequestration and regenerative grazing


My name is Kristine Nicols I’m with the Rodale
Institute and I’m here with this setup for different safety I’m presenting on how soil
is a solution to climate change. So, tell us about the 4P1000 we’ve been hearing
so much about. What is the initiative and why is it so groundbreaking? Well, the initiative is so groundbreaking
I think because it is really looking at trying to come up with a viable solution to climate
change. And really looking at agriculture and agricology in the soil as a big potential
for that, so the whole idea is what they want to do is they want to increase the amount
of carbon in the soil every year by point-four percent. Which sounds like a very small number
but its very significant over time, I mean in ten years your looking at increasing carbon
very significantly in soils. It’s something that can be a very strong type
of thing to be able to solve the carbon problem that I had discussed here and the carbon problem
is really this whole idea of the fact that focus too much on what we call issues and
decided that those are problems like too little water, too little nutrients, not the right
weather patterns all those types of things but what we really have in the end is the
fact that our soils are starving for carbon. And if we can get more plants growing and
manage the growth in plants appropriately we’re going to be able to get more carbon
into the soil and get more productivity out of the soil, manage water better, and um…
provide for resiliency to allow plants and crops to continue to grow under climatic uncertainty
that we’re heading towards. And what are some of the strategies for success
in that in getting that carbon back in the soil? The strategies for getting that carbon back
in the soil are to increase your plant production which means not necessarily growing fence-row
to fence-row and narrowing your row spacing but actually getting your plants to produce
more. So, getting more vegetative growth in your plants. Some of that can be supplemented
by doing things like cover crops. So, your adding an additional green growing crop, keeping
it in a vegetative phase or its going to be putting more carbon below ground as apposed
to putting carbon above ground into the grain. um… so that can be an important component
of it. Getting more plants there growing, keeping the soil covered with living plants,
making sure that you have a good diverse crop rotation to add that diversity to feed diverse
number of different organisms that are in the soil. You have a whole plath row of organisms representing
millions of different species in the soil and what you need to have is that great diversity
so that you retain that resiliency of function and can manage diseases and pests and water
and nutrients throughout the growing season. Um… so its very important to be able to
have a good crop diversity when we have a mono-culture system. I acquaint this to the
donut-dot and basically what we’ve done is we’ve fed our soil donuts and I use donuts
not just because you know donuts are something that many people can relate to, wanting to
eat some… a bunch of. But, donuts, it’s important because the donuts are basically
allot of what our mono-cultures are. Very high carbon so very high sugar types of things
that isn’t very good for the entire system to function. There’s not allot of protein,
there’s not allot of other nutrients involved in that and thats what our mono-culture are
based on are these um… donut-type crops rather than based on very diverse crops. So,
the crop rotation can be important, again keeping your soil covered with a living plant
can be important, keeping your soil, reducing the amount of disturbance that you have in
your soil which can cause from excessive tillage. Tillage can be a tool to have to help to manage
some pests, um… but you need to utilize tillage appropriately, utilize the appropriate
tools, and make your decisions to utilize tillage as sort of a last resort. What are the other things I can do? If I did
have cover crops, companion crops, could I manage weeds better that way so I wouldn’t
have to use tillage as a tool? And then, you know also be looking at I think livestock
are a very important tool to be involved in this. Having a grazing animal is very important
to being able to stimulate more carbon cycling in the system. It’s stimulates the roots,
breaks off root hairs, which feeds more biology. So you get more of the carbon flowing through
the biology and when you do that you have different biological organisms that are now
gonna take some of the more labial carbon, carbon rapidly turns over and actually to
secure that using biological, chemical and physical methodologies so that its going to
stay in soil for decades rather than just a year or two.

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