Carbon is an important component that should be present in the soil. Human activities can either result in improved carbon storage or loss. Deforestation and decomposition of soil organic matter (SOM) contributes to the reduction of carbon levels in the soil. Deforestation removes the forest canopy increasing the soil temperatures when the ground becomes warmed up. The activity of the microbial decomposer community causes the decomposition of SOM in the absence of continual rates of carbon input. Loss of carbon input has increased Carbon (IV) Oxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere. To maintain the carbon input in the soil, planting fruit trees is an important idea that farmers should put into consideration. Fruit trees not only help in capturing CO2 in the soil but also in keeping soil temperatures at optimum levels.
However, the rate at which a tree stores carbon varies depending on the rate at which the tree grows and how big the tree becomes. Carbon input levels are cause dictated by the capacity of the soil to store moisture, the rate at which water is lost through transpiration, evaporation, runoff, and the ability of the soil to absorb water. These factors are determined by the proportions of silt, clay, and sand. With the right mixture in the soil structure, there are many pores in the soil. Since soils such as clay soil have micropores, they can store more water compared to sandy soils which have macropores. Apart from surface crust and compaction, soils with a good soil structure tend to hold water longer. The amount of organic matter that breaks down into nutrients and carbon plays an important role in improving the water absorption rate.
How to maintain soil carbon levels
There are many agronomic management practices that farmers can employ to maintain soil carbon levels. These include:
- Minimizing tillage on the farm.
- Employing soil health and environmentally friendly farming practices.
- Promotion of farm forestry by planting fruit trees.
- adoption of environmental and soil health-friendly farming systems;
- Planting cover crops especially in farms with fruit trees to minimize water loss through evaporation.
- Mulching crops with synthetic materials or different forms of crop residues.
- Minimizing water and soil losses by erosion and surface runoff.
- Employing organic farming practices. Farmers can apply external organic matter such as biochar, compost, biosolids, manure, and mulch. Biosolids not only provide nutrients to the soil but also promote carbon storage. Extra soil carbon that is stored in the soil helps in capturing more moisture which means that plants will grow strong and healthy. Biowastes reduces the effects of drought on productivity and soil health.
- Adoption of integrated nutrient management practices to increase soil fertility.
Importance of soil carbon sequestration includes;
- It helps in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs).
- It helps in minimizing CO2 emissions.
- It reduces nutrient losses.
- It helps in lowering atmospheric temperatures.
- It improves productivity and soil health.
- It creates a suitable biotic habitat.
- It helps in reducing soil erosion
- It enables and promotes root growth.
- It promotes water conservation by minimizing water loss through evaporation and runoff.
The agriculture sector can play an important role in reducing emissions of GHGs if suitable measures are adopted. Since soils with a high organic matter have higher carbon dioxide sequestration potential, healthy soils can help in fighting climate change. Farmers should ensure adopt regenerative agriculture to increase biodiversity, enhance ecosystem services, and enrich the soils. Fruit farming not only helps in storing soil carbon but can also be a lifetime venture. If you are planning to venture fruit farming, you should buy seedlings at Oxfarm Ltd.