By David Appell
While humans struggle to emit less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, microbes in the soil need more. These microbes use carbon for energy – and keep it underground. But most commercial agriculture – with empty fields between crop cycles and heavy plowing – reduces the amount of carbon captured in the soil by plants, and releases much of what is already there into the atmosphere.
JOHNSON: “It’s an elegant system when you allow it to work.”
Cover crops, which are grown when fields are usually idle, can also be chopped and lightly worked into the top layer of soil – returning even more carbon to the ground. Johnson says this method can capture almost fifteen tons of carbon dioxide per acre.