The Grasslands and Prairies Story is the Most Significant way Fertile Soil is Created.
This is how it happens.
1 Cows eat grass.
2 One bite, and the grass plant immediately sheds a few roots.
3 The cows produce waste.
4 Soil microbes and earth worms eat dead grass roots and cow’s waste,
and their waste is humus.
5 Grasses grow best in humus rich soil. So it’s full circle, back to the cow.
That’s why the most fertile soils in the world are the grasslands of the world, the steppes, the savannahs, and the prairies. And every one of those grasslands had some type of grazing animal living on it; often for a million years or more. Thus grassland ecosystems automatically create their own humus rich, hugely fertile top soils. Trees don’t constantly shed their roots as do the grasses. Tree roots just get fatter and when the tree dies, termites eat the dead roots. Termites don’t make soil. They turn the root carbon into methane. So forest soils always slowly self-destruct.
Hard rock, near the surface, weathers down and becomes “subsoil”. Subsoil is biologically inert. But when humus is created in that subsoil, then it becomes “topsoil”. It’s a billion year old design process. And it usually takes centuries to get decent quantities of humus to build up in a soil a profile soil.
But good farming can make it all happen in weeks. And that’s what we want.
The chemistry is straight forward. Both living plant materials and soil humus are about half carbon. The carbon dioxide in the air is 27% carbon. Using carbon dioxide from the air, water from the ground, and sunlight from space, the chlorophyll in a blade of grass, or any other green leaf, manufactures living plant materials which in turn ultimately becomes humus or animal manure. All these materials comprise about 52% to 58% carbon, but remember, carbon dioxide is 27% carbon.
So to simplify things we can think of it this way – It takes two kilograms of carbon dioxide to make on kilogram of organic matter.
And organic matter is what turns poor, useless, hopelessly unproductive soils – into rich, fertile and hugely productive soils.
Herbivores eat grass, carnivores eat herbivores. We’re omnivores; we can eat both.
Strong agricultural chemicals kill the microbes and earth worms that turn dead plant materials into rich humus.
Strong agricultural chemicals break down and destroy the humic acid molecule which is the basic particle in stable soil humus.
There are probably thousands of way that farmers and gardeners have to increase the fertility and therefore the carbon content of their soils.
We just have to let our farmers “have their head” to do it, no restrictions, no holds barred. Whatever way they devise to increase the carbon content of their soils has to be okay with us. And we pay them their $!0 a tonne minimum CO2 equivalent.
No fuss, no hindrances, no problems, no interference, no bureaucratic complexities, for the world’s farmers give us our only chance to prevent an otherwise inevitable biosphere heat runaway.