New Jersey Ag News
Kitteridge to discuss carbon sequestration in soil
By JANE PRIMERANO
(Dec. 15, 2016) Jack Kitteridge, policy director of Northeast Organic Farming Association/Massachusetts, will share his expertise on carbon sequestration at the NOFA-New Jersey Winter Conference in late January.
Kitteridge and co-presenter Julie Rawson will talk about the various ways they keep carbon in the soil on their New England farm.
Kitteridge is an expert in the field, having published a monograph on carbon sequestration in 2015.
NOFA/Mass is taking a soil carbon survey with questions about the growing practices of anyone who manages land: farmers, gardeners, homeowners and professionals.
The questions center around practices, learning and interests.
The group recruited participants for a trial to research the most effective methods of capturing carbon in the soil.
Practices could include low till, no till, mulching with organic matter, use of fungal/microbial inoculants, ending synthetic chemical use or integrating livestock into cropping.
Storing carbon in the soil is returning the carbon where it belongs, according to Kitteridge in his essay, “Soil Carbon Restoration: Can Biology do the Job?”
Land clearing and cultivation have released massive amounts of carbon from the soil.
The microbes in the soil return carbon but must be helped along for optimum soil conditions.
Since there is too much carbon, in the form of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere, researches are attempting to remove it from the air and return it to the soil.
Kitteridge has researched various methods of carbon restoration since the process was started about 20 years ago.
He and others determined perennial growing systems restore more carbon than most other systems but more studies need to be done.
Kitteridge has written that organic, no-till practices coupled with adding sufficient organic matter to the soil seems to apparently succeed at restoring carbon.
This may only stabilize carbon in the first few inches of soil, but studies have indicated these may be a slow deepening of organic matter in the soil.
Soils with more humus maintain carbon most easily.
Its complex molecules are not easily broken down by microbial life in the soil.
Kitteridge’s research indicates it is most important to use cover crops. Bare soil, even over winter, oxidizes carbon.
He said he believes there is a need for more research into methods for fighting weeds without disturbing the soil to the extent that carbon is released.
There are currently systems and devices in the design stage that may reduce tillage requirements which should be effective, according to his writings.