Monthly Archives:January 2011

Soil Carbon Dream

I have a dream that one day we live in a nation where progress will not be judged by the production yields of our fields, but by the color of their soils and by the Carbon content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, a suite of earth sensing satellites will level the playing field, giving every farmer a full account of carbon he sequesters. That Soil Carbon is given as the final arbiter, the common currency, accountant and Judge of Stewardship on our lands.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made forest, the rough soils will be made fertile, and the crooked Carbon Marketeers will be made straight, and the glory of Soil Sequestration shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see a Mutually assured Sustainability.

This is our hope.

My apologies to Dr. King, but I think he would understand my passion Please join me in this quest to build a bridge to a Post-Combustion Age. Since we have filled the air, filling the seas to full, Soil is the Only Beneficial place left. Carbon to the Soil, the only ubiquitous and economic place to put it.

Thanks for your efforts.
Erich J. Knight

The Future of Life

In E. O. Wilson’s, “The Future of Life,” he opens the book with a letter to Thoreau updating him on our current understanding of the nature of the ecology of the soils at Walden Pond.

“These arthropods are the giants of the microcosm . Creatures their size are present in dozens-hundreds, if an ant or termite colony is present. But these are comparatively trivial numbers. If you focus down by a power of ten in size, enough to pick out animals barely visible to the naked eye, the numbers jump to thousands. Nematode and enchytraied pot worms, mites, springtails, pauropods, diplurans, symphylans, and tardigrades seethe in the underground. Scattered out on a white ground cloth, each crawling speck becomes a full-blown animal. Together they are far more striking and divers in appearance than snakes, mice, sparrows, and all the other vertebrates hereabouts combined. Their home is a labyrinth of miniature caves and walls of rotting vegetable debris cross-strung with ten yards of fungal threads. And they are just the surface of the fauna and flora at our feet. Keep going, keep magnifying until the eye penetrates microscopic water films on grains of sand, and there you will find ten billion bacteria in a thimbleful of soil and frass. You will have reached the energy base of the decomposer world as we understand it 150 years after you sojourn in Walden Woods.”

Certainly, there remains much work to just characterize all the estimated 1,000 species of microbes found in a pinch of soil, and Wilson concludes at the end of the prolog that:

“Now it is up to us to summon a more encompassing wisdom.”

Biochar is viewed as soil infrastructure. “Feed the Soil Not the Plants” now becomes: “Feed, Cloth and House the Soil, utilities included!”.

Free Carbon Condominiums with carboxyl group fats in the pantry and hydroxyl alcohol in the mini bar. Build it and the Wee-Beasties will come. Microbes like to sit down when they eat and enjoy the full services provided by the web of fungal mycelium delivering nutrients, moisture and providing an internet for plant chemical communication. By setting this table we expand husbandry to whole new orders and Kingdoms of Life.