Tag Archive: Soil


WOOD PILE

Nutrient-rich forests absorb more carbon


by Staff Writers
Laxenburg, Austria (SPX) Apr 17, 2014


File image.

The ability of forests to sequester carbon from the atmosphere depends on nutrients available in the forest soils, shows new research from an international team of researchers, including IIASA.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, showed that forests growing in fertile soils with ample nutrients are able to sequester about 30% of the carbon that they take up during photosynthesis. In contrast, forests growing in nutrient-poor soils may retain only 6% of that carbon. The rest is returned to the atmosphere as respiration.

“This paper produces the first evidence that to really understand the carbon cycle, you have to look into issues of nutrient cycling within the soil,” says IIASA Ecosystems Services and Management Program Director Michael Obersteiner, who worked on the study as part of a new international research project sponsored by the European Research Council.

Marcos Fernandez-Martinez, first author of the paper and researcher at the Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) says, “In general, nutrient-poor forests spend a lot of energy-carbon-through mechanisms to acquire nutrients from the soil, whereas nutrient-rich forests can use that carbon to enhance biomass production.”

 

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Research: Arid areas absorb unexpected amounts of carbon

By Eric Sorensen, WSU science writer

PULLMAN, Wash. – Researchers led by a Washington State University biologist have found that arid areas, among the biggest ecosystems on the planet, take up an unexpectedly large amount of carbon as levels of carbon dioxide increase in the atmosphere. The findings give scientists a better handle on the earth’s carbon budget – how much carbon remains in the atmosphere as CO2, contributing to global warming, and how much gets stored in the land or ocean in other carbon-containing forms.


“It has pointed out the importance of these arid ecosystems,” said R. Dave Evans, a WSU professor of biological sciences specializing in ecology and global change. “They are a major sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide, so as CO2 levels go up, they’ll increase their uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere. They’ll help take up some of that excess CO2 going into the atmosphere. They can’t take it all up, but they’ll help.”

Published in Nature Climate Change

The findings, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, come after a novel 10-year experiment in which researchers exposed plots in the Mojave Desert to elevated carbon-dioxide levels similar to those expected in 2050. The researchers then removed soil and plants down to a meter deep and measured how much carbon was absorbed.

“We just dug up the whole site and measured everything,” said Evans.

The idea for the experiment originated with scientists at Nevada’s universities in Reno and Las Vegas and the Desert Research Institute. Evans was brought in for his expertise in nutrient cycling and deserts, while researchers at the University of Idaho, Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University and Colorado State University also contributed.

Funding came from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Terrestrial Carbon Processes Program and the National Science Foundation’s Ecosystem Studies Program.

Vast lands play significant role

The work addresses one of the big unknowns of global warming: the degree to which land-based ecosystems absorb or release carbon dioxide as it increases in the atmosphere.

Receiving less than 10 inches of rain a year, arid areas run in a wide band at 30 degrees north and south latitude. Along with semi-arid areas, which receive less than 20 inches of rain a year, they account for nearly half the earth’s land surface.

 

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Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

 

04 Mar 2014: Analysis

Soil as Carbon Storehouse:
New Weapon in Climate Fight?

The degradation of soils from unsustainable agriculture and other development has released billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere. But new research shows how effective land restoration could play a major role in sequestering CO2 and slowing climate change.

by judith d. schwartz

In the 19th century, as land-hungry pioneers steered their wagon trains westward across the United States, they encountered a vast landscape of towering grasses that nurtured deep, fertile soils.

Today, just three percent of North America’s tallgrass prairie remains. Its disappearance has had a dramatic impact on the landscape and ecology of

The world’s cultivated soils have lost 50 to 70 percent of their original carbon stock.

the U.S., but a key consequence of that transformation has largely been overlooked: a massive loss of soil carbon into the atmosphere. The importance of soil carbon — how it is leached from the earth and how that process can be reversed — is the subject of intensifying scientific investigation, with important implications for the effort to slow the rapid rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

According to Rattan Lal, director of Ohio State University’s Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, the world’s cultivated soils have lost between 50 and 70 percent of their original carbon stock, much of which has oxidized upon exposure to air to become CO2. Now, armed with rapidly expanding knowledge about carbon sequestration in soils, researchers are studying how land restoration programs in places like the

polar jet stream

Rattan Lal
Soil in a long-term experiment appears red when depleted of carbon (left) and dark brown when carbon content is high (right).

former North American prairie, the North China Plain, and even the parched interior of Australia might help put carbon back into the soil.

Absent carbon and critical microbes, soil becomes mere dirt, a process of deterioration that’s been rampant around the globe. Many scientists say that regenerative agricultural practices can turn back the carbon clock, reducing atmospheric CO2 while also boosting soil productivity and increasing resilience to floods and drought. Such regenerative techniques include planting fields year-round in crops or other cover, and agroforestry that combines crops, trees, and animal husbandry.

Recognition of the vital role played by soil carbon could mark an important if subtle shift in the discussion about global warming, which has been

A look at soil brings a sharper focus on potential carbon sinks.

heavily focused on curbing emissions of fossil fuels. But a look at soil brings a sharper focus on potential carbon sinks. Reducing emissions is crucial, but soil carbon sequestration needs to be part of the picture as well, says Lal. The top priorities, he says, are restoring degraded and eroded lands, as well as avoiding deforestation and the farming of peatlands, which are a major reservoir of carbon and are easily decomposed upon drainage and cultivation.

He adds that bringing carbon back into soils has to be done not only to offset fossil fuels, but also to feed our growing global population. “We cannot feed people if soil is degraded,” he says.

“Supply-side approaches, centered on CO2 sources, amount to reshuffling the Titanic deck chairs if we overlook demand-side solutions: where that carbon can and should go,” says Thomas J. Goreau, a biogeochemist and expert on carbon and nitrogen cycles who now serves as president of the Global Coral Reef Alliance. Goreau says we need to seek opportunities to increase soil carbon in all ecosystems — from tropical forests to pasture to wetlands — by replanting degraded areas, increased mulching of biomass instead of burning, large-scale use of biochar, improved pasture management, effective erosion control, and restoration of mangroves, salt marshes, and sea grasses.

“CO2 cannot be reduced to safe levels in time to avoid serious long-term impacts unless the other side of atmospheric CO2 balance is included,” Goreau says.

Scientists say that more carbon resides in soil than in the atmosphere and all plant life combined; there are 2,500 billion tons of carbon in soil, compared with 800 billion tons in the atmosphere and 560 billion tons in plant and animal life. And compared to many proposed geoengineering fixes, storing carbon in soil is simple: It’s a matter of returning carbon where it belongs.

Through photosynthesis, a plant draws carbon out of the air to form carbon compounds. What the plant doesn’t need for growth is exuded through the roots to feed soil organisms, whereby the carbon is humified, or rendered stable. Carbon is the main component of soil organic matter and helps give soil its water-retention capacity, its structure, and its fertility. According to Lal, some pools of carbon housed in soil aggregates are so stable that they can last thousands of years. This is in contrast to “active” soil carbon,

‘If we treat soil carbon as a renewable resource, we can change the dynamics,’ says an expert.

which resides in topsoil and is in continual flux between microbial hosts and the atmosphere.

“If we treat soil carbon as a renewable resource, we can change the dynamics,” says Goreau. “When we have erosion, we lose soil, which carries with it organic carbon, into waterways. When soil is exposed, it oxidizes, essentially burning the soil carbon. We can take an alternate trajectory.”

 

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missingsky102 missingsky102

Published on Jan 24, 2014

In Fukushima, massive amounts of radioactive soil and debris are still piled up in residential areas. The government has asked the head of local authorities to accept intermediate storage facilities. In this episode we look at what is hampering the project.

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Earth Watch Report  -  Hazmat

  • Firefighters clean up a radioactive spill at a work site in Cliftleigh between Heddon Greta and Testers Hollow on Monday afternoon. Photo by Marina Neil Firefighters clean up a radioactive spill at a work site in Cliftleigh between Heddon Greta and Testers Hollow on Monday afternoon. Photo by Marina Neil

View Additional Photos Here

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HAZMAT Australia State of New South Wales, Cliftleigh Damage level Details

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HAZMAT in Australia on Monday, 20 January, 2014 at 10:02 (10:02 AM) UTC.

Description
A radioactive substance has been released into the soil at a new housing development in Cliftleigh. Six fire crews were called to the housing estate off Main Road at 5.30pm yesterday after a bulldozer ran over a densometer and smashed it and its radioactive substance into the ground. A densometer is a probe used in geotechnical engineering and it had been put in the ground to determine the depth of the soil. Firefighters said the device contained a small radioactive isotope which had broken during the impact from the earth moving machine. Firefighters wore protective gear and used specific equipment to measure the level of radioactive activity in the soil. They then treated the incident using HAZMAT techniques. Police were also called to the incident and set up an exclusion zone around the estate. One resident who witnessed the clean up, but did not want to be identified, said it was concerning that the radioactive substance had entered the soil. She was worried about the impact it would have on the environment. Another resident was worried the substance might have already damaged the soil.

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Newcastle Herald

Crushed device raises radiation fear in Cliftleigh

  • Firefighters clean up a radioactive spill at a work site in Cliftleigh between Heddon Greta and Testers Hollow on Monday afternoon. Photo by Marina Neil Firefighters clean up a radioactive spill at a work site in Cliftleigh between Heddon Greta and Testers Hollow on Monday afternoon. Photo by Marina Neil

A RADIOACTIVE substance has been released into the soil at a new housing development in Cliftleigh.

Six fire crews were called to the housing estate off Main Road at 5.30pm yesterday after a bulldozer ran over a densometer and smashed it and its radioactive substance into the ground.

A densometer is a probe used in geotechnical engineering and it had been put in the ground to determine the depth of the soil.

Firefighters said the device contained a small radioactive isotope that had broken during the impact from the earthmoving machine.

Read More Here

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FARM NEWS

Plant production could decline as climate change affects soil nutrients

 

 


The cliff face of Cedar Mesa, in southeast Utah, overlooks one of many sites sampled in the world’s drylands.

 

by Staff Writers
Flagstaff AZ (SPX) Nov 04, 2013


As drylands of the world become even drier, water will not be the only resource in short supply. Levels of nutrients in the soil will likely be affected, and their imbalance could affect the lives of one-fifth of the world’s population.

That includes people living in Arizona, who may be in for a dustier future.

The findings are presented in a study published in Nature that details how soil changes may occur and discusses the implications. Co-author Matthew Bowker, assistant professor of forest soils and ecosystem ecology at Northern Arizona University, was involved with the project since 2009.

Bowker explained that most of the 17 nutrients that plants need to grow to their potential are soil resources, such as nitrogen and phosphorus. The statistical model he helped develop for the study suggests that as the climate becomes more arid, nitrogen will decrease and phosphorus will increase.

“Both are essential for plant growth, and both are typical components of fertilizer, but both need to be around in the right quantities for plant growth to proceed most efficiently,” Bowker said.

 

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Caution 

Music at the  beginning of the  video  is extremely  loud so please be sure  to  lower  your  volume settings  as I  have no  control over the settings  used to  create  the  original  video.

~Desert Rose~

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medfaxx medfaxx

Uploaded on Apr 27, 2009

Healthier more robust plants, better drainage, improved uptake of nutrients, preserves beneficial living organisms, more organic matter, more humus, better water infiltration, holds more water, break down and recycle soil nutrients.
Video by Dr. Milton Ganyard at HerbFest to benefit the Graham Johnson Cultural Arts Endowment, http://www.gjcae.org.

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MOTHER EARTH NEWS

Manage these vigorous self-seeders so you’ll never have to buy seeds again.

By Barbara Pleasant
August/September 2010

self-seeding crops
Letting crops flower and go to seed also supports beneficial insects!
ILLUSTRATION: ELAYNE SEARS

One of the characteristics of a truly sustainable garden is that it produces at least some of its own seed. This is most often done when gardeners select, harvest and store seeds until the proper time for planting the following year. But some self-seeding crops produce seeds so readily that as long as you give them time to flower and mature, and set seed, you will always have free plants growing in your garden. You can simply let the seeds fall where they are, or toss pieces of the seed heads into the corners of your garden, or whichever area you want them in — no harvesting, storing or replanting required. With most self-seeding vegetables, herbs and annual flowers, you’ll just need to learn to recognize the seedlings so you don’t hoe them down. Should seedlings require relocation, you can simply lift and move them — after all, they are sturdy field-grown seedlings.

In addition to getting all the free garden plants you need (and some to share with family and friends), nurturing self-seeders is also a great way to provide a diversity of flowers that supply pollen and nectar for beneficial insects. Self-seeding flowers, herbs and vegetables that show up in early spring include arugula, calendula, chamomile, cilantro, dill, breadseed poppies and brilliant red orach (mountain spinach). Nasturtiums, amaranth, New Zealand spinach, and even basil or zinnias appear later, after the soil has warmed.

Starting a new colony of any of these annuals is usually a simple matter of lopping off armloads of brittle, seedbearing stems in the fall, and dumping them where you want the plants to appear the next season. It’s that easy. Most of the seedlings will appear in the first year after you let seed-bearing plants drop their seeds, with lower numbers popping up in subsequent seasons.

Working with reseeding, or self-sowing, crops saves time and trouble and often gives excellent results, but a few special techniques and precautions are in order. Some plants that self-sow too freely — especially perennials such as garlic chives or horseradish — will cross the line into weediness if not handled with care.

Spring Seeds for Fall Crops

The first group of plants to try as self-sown crops — both because they’re the easiest and they’ll be ready the same year — are those that tend to bolt in late spring. If allowed to bloom and set seed, dill, radishes, arugula, cilantro, broccoli raab, turnips and any kind of mustard will produce ripe seeds in time for fall reseeding in most climates. Lettuce will take a little longer, but often gives good results in Zone 5 or warmer.

One way to encourage self-seeders is to select vigorous plants from a larger planting, and let these plants grow unharvested until they bloom and produce seeds. This will work well enough, but it’s often bothersome to have one lone turnip holding up the renovation of a planting bed. To get around this problem, use a Noah’s ark approach: Set aside a bed or row and transplant pairs of plants being grown for seed into the ark bed. As the weeks pass, weed, water and stake up seed-bearing branches to keep them clean, but don’t pick from the “seed ark” bed.

Read More  Here

 

 

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