SOIL ORGANIC CARBON
Across the world, there are 530 million farmers managing half a billion hectares of land.
These farmers understand that soil organic carbon levels are a true metric of soil health. It influences the infiltration and storage of soil water, driving effective nutrient cycling and limiting fertiliser dependency and topsoil loss. Soil carbon is simply the foundation of fertility in any soil.
Here in Australia, every one per cent increase in soil organic carbon;
doubles rainfall infiltration
adds an extra 20kg of plant-available nitrogen per hectare
allows an additional 14,000 litres of water to be stored in each hectare of soil to be used by plants
The conversion of atmospheric carbon to soil carbon is carried out by every plant across the globe every day. What sets SoilCQuest's biotechnology apart from this common-place natural cycle is the ability to lock the carbon into the soil long-term, away from oxidation, preventing it from re-entering the carbon cycle and our atmosphere.
For every tonne of soil carbon produced by our biotechnology, 3.67 tonnes of atmospheric carbon is removed from the air, and recycled to be used by the world's farmers to bolster their soil fertility.
Much like ourselves, all plants are inhabited internally by a diverse community of microbiology.
Much of this microbiology is a group of bacteria and fungi that exist in a plant without causing the plants any harm (endophytes).
We work with specific endophytes that anchor inside plant roots, and exchange nutrients for carbon in a symbiotic relationship.
It has been found that these endophytes have the capacity to take the carbon that a plant draws from the air, and store it in complex compounds in the soil. What is special, however, is that they store the carbon in a way that protects it from breaking down and being released back into the atmosphere via the carbon cycle.
Our scientists have isolated strains that will rapidly store significant amounts of carbon, allowing long-term stable sequestration to happen much faster than would usually be anticipated from plants alone.
By using a microorganism for rapid carbon sequestration, we do not experience the huge costs in energy, land or resources that are incurred by carrying out sequestration mechanically.
While the trials on farms are in early stages, the results as they stand are promising, giving scientists hope that a practical solution for climate change is in our grasp.