In our complex world, it’s nice to have simplicity. The world is complicated enough—no need to compound existing issues. And when it comes to some critical global issues we’re dealing with, having any answer at all is helpful, especially if the answer is simple.
It may sound too good to be true, but soil scientist and director of Ohio State University Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, Dr. Rattan Lal, said back in 2009, “We are dealing with 10 global issues at the moment: food security; availability of water; climate change; energy demand; waste disposal; extinction of biodiversity; soil degradation and desertification; poverty; political and ethnic instability; and rapid population increase. The solution to all of these lies in soil management.”
What Lal is pointing to is the idea of soil carbon sequestration, a process of capturing and long-term storing of atmospheric carbon dioxide. In other words, it is the process of removing carbon from the atmosphere and placing it in a reservoir—in this case, soil. In fact, soil management can offer a lot in terms of helping out with our global issues.
Of course, there are a variety of approaches to achieve soil carbon sequestration, but the consensus is that it is a viable option that can positively and greatly impact global issues we are facing. Practicing organic farming is part of the answer, since organic farming at its basic philosophy is farming with the earth while being keenly aware of the complex connections making up our earth's ecosystems.
For starters, organic farming uses practices encouraging a greater sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide back into the soil. That’s huge. For more than two decades, the Farming Systems Trial (FST) at the Rodale Institute has been studying what happens over time to plants in the soil in both organic and synthetic chemical farming systems.
The result? Organically farmed soil stores carbon—a lot of it. In fact, it stores so much that “if all the cultivated land in the world were farmed organically, it would immediately reduce our climate crisis significantly,” according to Maria Rodale in her book Organic Manifesto.
Paul Hepperly, Ph.D., Fulbright scholar and former senior scientist at the Rodale Institute, adds, “These fungi (mycorrhizal fungi in the soil) actually build our soil and its health and contribute to taking greenhouse gases out of the air—counteracting global warming to boot.”
Organic farming also increases soil diversity with microbial biomass, creating resilience against any future potential environmental threats. Likewise, organic farming reduces synthetic fertilizer use, eliminating the need for energy-intensive nitrogen production.
Additionally, organic farming creates higher gross incomes for farmers, and is a sustainable agriculture approach that can lead to healthy people, healthy communities and a healthy world, particularly in developing nations where organic farming has the potential to enable food security, economic stability as well as people and community empowerment. It even positively affects the very air we breathe, since plants breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen, which we need.
There's much more to this, but the answer to some complex global problems may be found in better soil management, including organic farming.
This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.