Carbon Sequestration

Carbon Dioxide – What’s the problem

The planet naturally releases and absorbs far more carbon dioxide than humans emit by burning fossil fuels. The problem is that human activities have thrown the Earth’s carbon cycle out of balance.

The Earth’s natural carbon cycle moves a staggering amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) around our planet. Some parts of the planet, such as the oceans and forests, absorb carbon dioxide and store it for hundreds or thousands of years. These are called natural carbon sinks. Meanwhile, natural sources of CO2, such as undersea volcanoes and hydrothermal vents, release carbon. Altogether the planet absorbs and emits somewhere on the order of 100 billion tons of carbon dioxide through this natural cycle every year.

That total dwarfs humanity’s contribution, amounting to ten times as much CO2 as humans produce through activities such as burning fossil fuels.

If people emit only a tenth as much CO2 as nature does, then why are scientists so concerned about our emissions driving climate change? It is because our extra chunk of carbon emissions has tipped out of equilibrium what was once a balanced cycle. “What’s being taken out by natural processes is more or less equal to what’s being put in—other than the extent to which we’ve disturbed it,” This is why the atmospheric level of CO2 continues to creep up as humans keep burning fossil fuels: Human activities tip the scales by adding carbon to the air faster than the planet’s sinks can absorb it.

– Daniel Rothman, MIT professor of geophysics

Planetary boundaries diagram

Where to improve carbon storage

It is a common notion that improving carbon storage involves just planting trees. However, the crucial factor lies underground with the symbiont connections of plants with living organisms, specifically Mycorrhizal fungi webs and the glycoproteins they secrete.

It is clear that the earth’s underground sinks equate to far higher carbon storage than the vegetation above the ground.

Wetlands serve as significant carbon reservoirs. Although they cover just 5-8% of the earth’s land area, they contain a substantial portion, ranging from 20 to 30% of the total organic soil carbon estimated to exist. However large gains could certainly be made by focusing on how we manage croplands and grassland.

Beneath us lies the world’s second-largest carbon sink.

Agricultural soils have the potential to capture up to 8 Gt of CO2 equivalent each year, enough to counterbalance emissions from the global transmission sector.

Currently, carbon levels are excessive in the atmosphere while lacking in the soil, but mycorrhizae offer a promising solution to restore this balance.

Supported by scientific evidence, mycorrhizae play a crucial role in permanently storing carbon in the soil. As plants undergo photosynthesis, they convert carbon dioxide into organic carbon, with 20% of it transferred to mycorrhizal fungi through their roots.

Remarkably, mycorrhizae contribute up to 60% of all plant-derived soil organic carbon. This carbon is then securely sequestered within recalcitrant glycoproteins, maintaining stability and permanence even after decades of tillage.

Modern agricultural practices have disrupted the essential rhizospheric ecosystem, crucial for plant vitality and crop well-being. Rootella® revitalises the soil, bringing life back into it, empowering growers to restore their land.

Environmental benefits

The effect of mycorrhizae on alleviating phosphorus consumption is notable. Phosphorus (P), is an element essential for plants and is non-renewable. 15% of phosphorus fertiliser is typically absorbed by plants, leaving the remaining 85% to contribute to runoff, resulting in excessive fertilisation. This, in turn, leads to water and soil contamination, harmful blue algae proliferation and substantial financial resources are squandered on wasted chemical fertilisers.

Mycorrhizae play a crucial role in dissolving and actively absorbing Phosphorous, Nitrogen and other minerals, effectively mobilising them from extensive soil areas into plants. Effectively providing a substantial reduction in fertiliser usage, yielding significant savings.

Among organisms, mycorrhizal fungi are unique in their production of glomalin, a glycoprotein. Acting as “soil glue,” glomalin binds organic matter to particles of silt, sand, and clay, permeating the soil. This process imparts the desirable granular texture and quality to the soil, known as tilth. Glomalin enhances soil vitality, reinforces its structure, and sequesters atmospheric carbon through symbiotic plants. Research demonstrates that an impressive 27% of soil carbon is attributed to glomalin, establishing it as a pivotal carbon sink on a global scale.

Learn more about Mycorrhizal Carbon.

Carbon Dioxide

How much carbon dioxide does the Earth naturally absorb?

Fossil Fuel Emissions

Symbiotic fungi could provide a solution to global warming.

Global Carbon Pool

Mycorrhizal Mycelium as a Global Carbon Pool.

Improving Soil

Better farming could lead to storage of 31 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

Learn about EU Green Deal

Europe aiming to improve sustainability and reduce emissions and what that means for NZ growers.

A Regenerative Secret

The catastrophe of the current cattle industry with the hopeful and inspiring paradigm of Regenerative Ranching.

CO2 Equivalent to a Third of Global Fossil Fuel Emissions

The overlooked role of mycorrhizal fungi in storing and transporting carbon underground through their extensive fungal networks.

Mycelium as a Global Carbon Pool

The role in transporting carbon into soil system on a global scale.

Speed up Carbon Sequestration by Enhanced Weathering

How mycorrhizal fungi interact with agricultural soil particles, potentially enhancing weathering through diverse mechanisms.

Carbon Storage under Elevated CO2 and Nitrogen

Carbon cycling under elevated CO2 and nitrogen deposition, considering potential carbon sequestration, turnover, and community composition changes.

Will Fungi Solve the Carbon Dilemma?

Explore how to keep soils as carbon sinks while maintaining their productivity.

Fungi Could be Essential to Reaching Net Zero

Researchers are calling for fungi to be considered more heavily in conservation and biodiversity policies.

Global Model for Water Reclamation

Water recycling success accelerates Emirates’ sustainability vision.

Averting Environmental Catastrophe Right Beneath our Feet.

Leverage soil ecosystems in the fight against disastrous global environmental change.

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