We need increased levels of soil organic carbon in agriculture for greater soil fertility. Increased biomass production results from increased soil fertility and soil fertility are strongly correlated with soil organic matter content. Fertile soil therefore has the ability to feed more people and to store more carbon. These are the primary benefits of fertile soil. A host of secondary and tertiary benefits also manifest as result.
Storing more carbon in soil is critically important for increased food production and beneficial in terms reducing greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient pollution. The former should be the goal but it is the latter part that receives the most press, with confusing and opposing claims. Particularly claims regarding the potential of soil to offset manmade carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions range from zero to 100 per cent. So, let’s first quickly look at the amount of CO2 emissions we are taking about and its rate of growth to set the stage before assessing the amount we can offset.