Hi, there.

The homepage diagram illustrates what is known as THE CARBON CYCLE. It is at the center of the CARBON SEQUESTRATION story. Here is a “quick and dirty” low down. 

The basic concept is that plants take in CARBON DIOXIDE. With the energy of the sun, plants transform carbon dioxide and water into a simple carbohydrate or sugar called glucose. This is the plant’s food. The process is, of course, what we call PHOTOSYNTHESIS. Plants are AUTOTROPHS, meaning they produce their own food (cool). 

OK, that much you probably learned in school. But what most people do not know is that only some of this glucose, a liquid form of carbon, is used by the plant and stored as plant biomass; between 20-60% of the glucose made in a plant in a day is released through the plant’s roots into the soil. This excess glucose that travels out of the root tips is called EXUDATES. Soil microbes hang out around the leaky roots in an area called the RHIZOSPHERE to feed off this easy to eat and delicious sugar.

So, in a world where there is too much carbon in the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide, plants are a NATURE-BASED SOLUTION to reducing GREENHOUSE GASES. The carbon exits the atmosphere through plants and sinks into the soil vis exudates or plant decomposition.

The trick, however, is how do we keep this carbon in the ground? Soil breathes out or respires carbon back into the atmosphere as CO2 and this is an important part of the carbon cycle. Some respiration will always occur when organic matter decomposes and microbes eat.

But humans can change our behaviors to encourage more carbon into the ground, to protect it for longer periods of time, and to diminish its release back into the atmosphere. Farmers, for instance, can adapt REGENERATIVE or ecological agriculture practices to do this. What are these practices? They include avoiding major soil disturbances like tillage, keeping living roots in the ground all year round, covering soil (or not leaving it bare) and eliminating synthetic chemicals. 

Lastly, increasing soil organic carbon has other ecosystem benefits beyond carbon sequestration. It improves soil structure, nutrient cycling and moisture retention, for starters. It is what we can a WIN-WIN.

I am going to stop here. I told you I was going to be brief. If you want more info, you can always visit the Resources page

Thanks for reading!

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Illustrations by Corey Cavagnolo
Photographs by Jess Giacobbe, Miles Dubois and Brooke Singer