THE KEY IS IN THE SOIL
Using the forces of nature and agriculture, we can reverse the effect of climate change - first we must look at the soil
Words: Emily Georgieva
Photography: Jahz Gonzalez, Jed Owen, Yuliya Kosolapova, Kirill Pershin, Jessi Pena
12 October 2019
There is a specific balance required for the whole of nature to function so that its living creatures - all people, animal and plants - can co-exist together in harmony. If we assume that this balance works through a mechanism, it becomes easier to picture the way life works, binding every aspect of nature together. People need plants, plants need animals, animals need people and vice versa. Nature has crafted a system that allows for everything alive to survive, grow and evolve.
In the recent decades this balance has been put to a test and nature's stability has been somewhat shaken. Climate change has been happening for a long time. Like many naturally influenced processes, it begun before people started acknowledging, let alone acting on it. In recent years, it has come to the world's attention that there are damages people have caused as species, which enhance the process of climate change.
Now the time has come to act. Never has it been more vital that our efforts and resources are put into preserving nature. Climate change has already caused severe global damage including habitat loss, odd weather patterns across the globe and the extinction of entire ecosystems. The air we breathe, the nature we feed from and the animal kingdom we co-exist with are on the verge of forcefully adapting to unusual circumstances that could potentially lead to fatal damages.
Yet, there is a solution to this crisis. It can be found in the mechanism that connects us all. To restore the balance, we must look into how nature functions and how every species of plant, animals and people are able to live in symbiosis. We looked closely to find that the key to restoring the balance in nature could very likely be in the ground.
Combining agriculture with technology is the way forward. Adam Chappell and his brother grew up in a family that took care of 9,000-acre farm in Arkansas. They started noticing that pigweed had appeared across the crop fields, slowing down the growth of everything they were trying to produce. No matter their efforts, they couldn't fight off the pigweed and saw themselves standing at crossroads. Then Adam stumbled across a solution that entirely changed the way his family was farming and taking care of the fields.
Adam explains in an interview with National Geographic that he replaced herbicides with cereal rye. As soon as he started planting the rice, corn, soybeans and cotton with it, the soil seemed to have gain its strength back. Using this farming method, Adam is aiming to contribute to reversing the effect of climate change by using natural resources rather than waiting for the invention of a technological breakthrough to serve the same purpose.
THE SOIL BECOMES HEALTHY WHEN THERE IS MORE CARBON IN IT.
THE MORE CARBON IN THE SOIL, THE LESS CARBON DIOXIDE IN THE ATMOSPHERE.
CLIMATE CHANGE IN STATISTICS
1. THERE WAS A 60% DROP IN THE WILDLIFE IN JUST OVER 40 YEARS
WWF and the Zoological Society of London published a report stating that the amount of all mammals, fish, birds and reptiles declined between 1970 and 2014.
2. WARMER WEATHER
This June multiple countries from Europe to the US have reported record temperature increase. Heatwaves have occurred several times over the year. Winter is also getting warmer - statistics prove that this February certain areas in the UK were hotter compared to cities like Barcelona and Malibu at that time.
3. CLIMATE CHANGE IS THE 3RD BIGGEST FACTOR RESPONSIBLE FOR LOSS OF BIODIVERSITY
After exploitation of sea resources and abuse of the land, climate change next in line to be blamed for disturbing biodiversity.
4. DEFORESTATION HAS LED TO OVER 120 000 SQ KM LOSS OF TROPICAL FOREST IN THE LAST YEAR ALONE
Carbon takes decades, sometimes longer to be stored. Forest fires release it immediately back into the atmosphere. Only as much as 10% of the world's CO2 emissions were due to natural deforestation.
5. THE LEVELS OF CO2 IN THE ATMOSPHERE ARE HIGHER THAN THEY HAVE BEEN IN THE HISTORY OF HUMANKIND
The last time in history the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was this high, was over 3 million years ago. Half of all CO2 emissions were recorded in the last 4 decades.
THE CLIMATE IS REBELLING.
WE REBEL WITH IT.
HOW ADAM REVOLUTIONISED AGRICULTURE
About a fourth of the greenhouse gas emissions in the whole world originate from agriculture and land usage. Plants can reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by making the soil absorb it. This is a win-win situation as it results in the soil gaining back its natural organic state. This way the soil gives healthier and richer harvest.
Given the amount of forest land that has been destroyed or damaged in the past few decades, humans must ensure to work towards restoring the balance in nature. Agriculture is a great way to start making up for what we have already lost. The Terraton Initiative agrees with this ideology, emphasising on its importance. The Institute has already started a movement, aspiring to deduct one trillion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by putting it in the ground to restore the carbon in the soil.
Farmers across the world have been influenced by this idea. Some of them already plant different types of flowers, such as tulips and sunflowers, across their crops to ensure they are strengthening the soil in an eco-friendly way.
Adam Chappell found a way to work alongside nature to heal what climate change is damaging. His vision is revolutionary in its simplicity. People can use nature's resources to bring more life to it. If such agricultural practices could be adopted by more farmers, the effect could reach a global scale. There is a total of 12 billion acres of farmland in the world - together the land can fight the climate dis-balance.
Photosynthesis is the magic that all plants possess. The sooner we start using nature and its resources to mend what has already been damaged, the less climate change will we face. When farmers stop using chemical pesticides and replace synthetic fertilizers and with cover crops, the soil begin growing healthier plants.
Although this process can be slow, considering that farmers are paid for the quantity of their produce, the practice is already working among some agriculture workers.
If the trend of enriching the soil in a natural way expands,
people could eliminate our carbon footprint on the planet in the near future.