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Living Soils - Carbon Fixing Solution to meet COP26 Obligations

How on earth will any country manage to meet its carbon emission reduction commitments agreed in COP26?


No one has a clue how to get their current emissions balance sheet - the business as usual carbon emissions against absorption essentially - down in any meaningful scale.


There is a solution and it is staring everyone in the face, hidden in plain sight if you like. Nature has the answer for many of our problems as you can well imagine.


If we take a moment to look at the normal carbon cycle or where carbon exists most prevalently and consider how it got there, then we may get some ideas of how best to move the carbon balance back into balance.


The atmosphere has some 800 billion tonnes of carbon molecules and dust in it as it is in a gaseous form. The earth and ground have 2.5 trillion tonnes of carbon in big amounts such as coal, oil and gas and soil organic carbon. Actually coal and oil and gas are soil organic carbon that has been metamorphosed or squeezed into hydrocarbon form usually deep underground. We have somewhere around 56 billion tonnes in biomass and organic living things including animals and humans. The organic matter really acts as a transition back and forwards between the atmosphere and the ground so having a lot of active organic matter such as rain forests is a very good thing. The final big carbon sink is the ocean which absorbs perhaps 30% of carbon emissions. These are absorbed into sea organic matter such as grasses and animals ultimately forming the aquatic equivalent process of the land organic grow, die and decompose back into the soils.


So,based on this hugely simplified carbon cycle summary, we could take carbon from the atmosphere and we could have it absorbed )sequestered) into biomass through the normal growing cycles of biomass - so farming - which we could then fast process into living soils after harvesting. This living soil is essentially mostly Soil Organic Matter and therefore mostly Soil Organic Carbon which is the basis of organic and regenerative farming practices. So if we could get the farmers to bury the living soils into the ground, we would be taking carbon from the atmosphere and depositing it into the ground which is the best place for carbon sequestration. The deeper in the ground the better. This is why digging up coal and oil and gas has been so damaging as this deep carbon has taken literally millions of years to be buried in the ground. Nature's way of balancing the carbon for the planet.


If we could get the farmers to trade farm grown biomass, the raw materials of Living Soils, for the final processed living soil product, then this would replace the use of the Chemical Fertilizers by farmers, convert them to organic cultivation which would bury carbon, produce organic produce and reduce their input costs and reliance of ever increasing Chemical fertilizers. In fact, if farmers were to grow their own biomass or even collect it from their hedgerows even, then they would reduce their costs of cultivation by 15-20%. Every subsistence or modern farmer in the world could literally self produce their own organic fertilizers.


This is the scale needed to meet COP26 obligations.


This is the scale to reverse the atmospheric carbon excess which would in turn reduce sea carbon absorption due to less carbon in the atmosphere.


Would this result in a commercial outcome for the farmers? If we consider their options today, every single farmer is under commercial pressure relative to chemical fertilizer applications. There is an inflection point of value for fertilizer expense against crop yield returns coupled to climate change and normal farming risks. The trend is that all farmers are cutting back on chemical fertilizers due to the huge cost increases over the last few years. This results in a dropping trend of yields which in turn reduces farm revenues which begins the cycle of decay and failure.


Many farms are already jumping across to regenerative farming whereby the farmer rebuilds the health of the soil - its soil organic matter content with carbon and microbes which open the soil and allow water, air and the biome to develop around the root ball of the crops. The fungi and bacteria within this space increase the exchange of nutrients with the plant more efficiently - just as nature intended - this is a living soil, allowing the crop or tree to meet it's full genetic potential. The increased carbon in the soil reduces compaction and holds 6 times the carbon weight in water and allows water to permeate into the aquifers. The natural state of the soil is achieved when the soil organic carbon levels are above 12-14%. They can go higher which is just a more healthy and vital soil. Current arable farmland in the UK, Europe, USA and Australia has soil organic carbon levels of 4 - 5%. These low levels of carbon and organic matter in the soil creates a weak biome, reduced water holding and permeating capabilities and poor nutrient delivery to crops. Chemical fertilizers operate in these weak soils by delivering some NPK to the plants but a lot is locked up or leached away from the plants meaning huge environmental impacts far past the soils themselves and a growing dependency on chemicals to grow in soils which are essentially dead. This is a great commercial outcome for chemical fertilizer companies of course.


The Biomass Trade

Making living soils is not simply piling up biomass, anyone who tells you this is misleading you. It is a science. On this basis it is best left to the experts. Lets call them the Soil Supercenters. When you compost down biomass through the heat stage (Thermophylic) then there is about 1/3 loss of the mass through literally the release of carbon. This released carbon could be captured along with the methane if this was in a Bioreactor - that article is for another day. Notwithstanding, one tonne of biomass delivered to a Soil Supercenter would become 2/3 of a tonne of compost to which is added ammendments such as gypsum and trace elements, coco coir and activated carbon and even food waste or agricultural waste all heavy in plant absorbed NPK ready to go around again. To this is added microbes, fungi and bacterias along with nutrients to create a living soils.


If this now 2/3rds of a tonne of living soils is split between the farmer and the Soil Supercenter, then we have the volume into the production of the Living soils to make the difference with the carbon and atmosphere, we have reduced input costs and growing organic yields for all farmers and the Soil Supercenter operator has 1/3 of high quality potting and trade soils to sell into the retail markets to fund the Soil Supercenter operations.


Soil Organic Carbon Sequestration Methodologies exist already. ACCUs, Australian Carbon Credit Units are a compliance market ready carbon applied directly into the soils measured and immediate carbon credit generating methodology already applied within the compliance markets. Soil Organic Carbon generated Carbon Credits are fixed carbon or carbon that is literally taken and applied and fixed within the soils in this case as opposed to offsetting carbon which can be derived from fossil fuel avoidance (replacement) or reduced use (efficiency such as B7 biofuels) which do not have such a clear environmental impact effect as carbon fixing.


Scale

Soil organic Carbon is BIG scale carbon fixing. We are essentially trying to move the carbon percentage within a soil from 4 or 5% to 12-14%. 1% soil organic carbon is around 22 tonnes of carbon per hectare. We are looking at applying somewhere in the region of 100 or 200 tonnes per hectare per year for a couple of years to rebuild the health of the soil. Sorghum can produce 70 tonnes of biomass after jaggery (sugar) and seed (food) per year easily) thereby making the rebuilding of soils very possible within a few years. A farm should essentially focus on converting one field at a time to be more effective in their efforts thereby essentially transitioning from chemical to organic over a planned transition.


There are 12 million farmers in Thailand. If each farm was to only trade 30 tonnes of biomass for 10 tonnes of living soils, then this alone would just about meet the 115 million tonne 2030 target for Thailand COP26. Organic soils continue to naturally sequester carbon so there is a natural growing of these figures after application. What is most important is these fields and farms are weaned off of chemicals, this reduces farming costs by 15-20%. The yields will build to commercial levels over a year or so (hence the transition) and the produce will be more attractive to the markets due the better nutrient levels within the produce. Interestingly the water in the water shed will go up also, the flooding will reduce, the environmental impact of chemical runoff will reduce and Thai domestic currency will not be exported to buy chemical fertilizers as the organic fertilizers are locally grown and processed. This makes them an economic generator....


For more information in regard to this program and the technology or to become an agent for Wealthy Farmers Network or Infinity Biological Soils, please contact us by email. wealthyfarmersnetwork@gmail.com and infinitybiosoils@gmail.com


Please do forward this blog post to your friends and colleagues. Have them subscribe to the blog and the twitter or Facebook accounts. The more eyes we have on these simple solutions the better our chances are to reverse climate change. Thank you.


Efficiency Professor Copyright June 2022

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A very interesting development in the UK where Regenerative Farms are being Certified. This has the potential to be a very good development for consumers and farmers on the basis that the cultivation