Slowing Climate Change With “Old Fashioned” No-Till Farming

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Climate change continues to threaten our beloved planet. But what if the solution was as simple as going back to our early farming roots?

Journalist and writer Kristin Ohlson explores this theory in her new book, “The Soil Will Save Us.” Ohlson argues that answer to turning back the clock and repairing our planet has been hiding beneath the very soil we walk upon.

Here are the basics: A lot of carbon dioxide resides in soil. Plants take it out of air and use it as fuel for growth. They also share a large percentage of that carbon fuel with the microorganisms in the soil. All that is fine and good and part of the natural system of things.

It wasn’t until we began such farming practices as tilling the land, that the carbon dioxide once contained in the soil began being released into the atmosphere at an alarming rate. Ohlson believes that one of the best and easiest solutions to our climate problem would be to switch to no-till farming practices.

In a recent interview with PRI, Ohlson points to the work of Scientist David Johnson at New Mexico State University, who is using...

…no-till agriculture in conjunction with dense cover crops — plants, such as legumes and grasses that grow in places and at times when the ground would otherwise be bare.”

The article describes how the roots of these cover crops capture carbon dioxide, sending the carbon down into the soil to feed the microorganisms, making the soil extremely porous. As Ohlson explains, “…it's very healthy for the plants, it's very healthy for the land, but it's also removing a lot of carbon from the air…”

In fact, after gaging the results of his research, Johnson believes that if as little as 11 percent of the world’s cropland were farmed using no-till methods, we could actually offset our carbon dioxide emissions.

Talk about getting back to our roots! That is certainly encouraging news.

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