It’s no secret that organic farmers believe in compost, but just what role compost plays in soil’s ability to store carbon – and keep it out of the atmosphere, where it contributes to climate change – has been less clear.

A recent study out of the University of California, Davis suggests that compost plays a larger role than once thought in building soil carbon.

It also found that carbon levels fluctuate more in deeper soil than most evaluation methodologies tend to account for. In practical terms, the findings could mean compost has been undervalued by agricultural incentive programs, and that we’ve been measuring carbon levels in soil all wrong.