Carbon Sequestration


     I recently had a phone  conversation with my Idaho daughter — a Master Gardener with a BS in Horticulture from BYU.  She was telling me about her current gardening project. She and her husband had mowed down some heavy vegetation on one of her garden plot and were now planning to till the residue into the soil.  She said she was “building soil organic matter”, and I agreed.  Jokingly though, I told her it wasn’t called that anymore and was now known as “engaging in carbon sequestration.” She was impressed. 

     Years ago, when I first encountered what  we now call organic production the emphasis was on building the OM in the soil  so you would not need the chemical amendments.  This is a far cry from the emphasis today where the regulations are based on ‘don’ts’  rather than ‘do’s’.  My concern has always been that we do not spend enough time and effort building soil organic matter.

     Thus, I was gratified to see an item about soil organic matter in the recent MOSES online newsletter.  Researchers at Northeastern University and The Organic Center analyzed over a thousand soil samples from across the country. They found soils on organic farms had larger amounts of soil organic matter (SOM) and carbon than conventionally farmed soils. The research also found that organic soil has 44% higher levels of humic acids than conventional soil. 

     To me, high SOM is more important than some slight infraction of NOSB standards.  After all, the NOSB appears to be more interested in the continued certification of hydroponically grown (without soil) vegetables than they are about levels of SOM in organic fields.