Our planet is at the brink. As the human population continues to grow the amount of resources our communities demand from the planet also continues to grow. Carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) are a natural byproduct of human industrial activity. Everything from agriculture and power generation to server centers produces CO2. While innovations in these fields have brought about incremental reductions to emissions output, an unhealthy amount of CO2, methane, and other harmful contaminants continue to impact our planet’s atmosphere and ecosystems.
While not a panacea (cure-all), algae provides an opportunity to help us mitigate some of these emissions. Algae grow and are cultivated by humans all over the world. Most algae species are great at taking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and using it to multiply. The carbon dioxide gets stored within the walls of the algal cells during the photosynthesis process and when the algae die the carbon dioxide remains in the water column or sinks to the floor of the water body and is stored there. On land, the opportunity to store carbon captured by algae is in our soils.
What is Soil Carbon Capture
Soil carbon sequestration is an important process that can help mitigate climate change. Soil carbon capture is the process of soil taking excess or waste carbon dioxide and holding it within the soil. This process occurs naturally when plants and microorganisms within the soil take carbon dioxide from the air and use it to grow. The CO2 captured will remain in the soil until the soil is shifted from its original place or somehow becomes aerated enough to allow off-gassing. The CO2, when stored via this method, can remain in the soil for up to 50 years and provides a number of benefits to other plants that may use the same soil for their own growth.
Soil carbon capture has become a popular method for many farmers to earn extra revenue via carbon sequestration and the sale of carbon credits. Typically, a farmer needs to utilize regenerative agricultural practices to ensure that the carbon remains in the soil. Techniques that farmers can adopt include no-till farming, rotational grazing, mixed crop rotation, cover cropping, composting, and avoiding synthetic chemicals. These techniques can enhance soil fertility, carbon sequestration, water retention, and water quality. Farmers can adopt regenerative agricultural techniques by using cover crops that are plants grown to cover the soil after farmers harvest the main crop. They can also use no-till agriculture where farmers avoid plowing soils and instead drill seeds into the soil. Additionally, farmers can use nutrient management practices such as crop rotation and low tillage which could reduce emissions by more than hal
Micro-algae strains such as spirulina, chlorella, and scenedesmus make excellent biofertilizers and biostimulants. When applied to the soil these algae provide a number of benefits from improved aeration, soil pH balancing, anti-fungal properties, and nutrient fixing from the atmosphere. Algal fertilizers are essentially slow release fertilizers. When applied to the soil, the algal cells will slowly degrade and release their nutrients into the soil. Additionally, before degrading, natural soil microbes can consume the algae in order to proliferate. This means that healthy and natural soil microbes benefit from the presence of micro-algae.
Aside from the benefits, farmers already utilizing regenerative agricultural practices can boost their carbon sequestration efforts by applying algae based fertilizers to their fields. This means more carbon taken from our atmosphere and kept in the soil. If connected with a marketplace that handles soil based carbon credits, then a farmer can potentially monetize their application of algal based fertilizers. Farmers aren’t the only ones who can utilize this method either, landscapers, lawn managers (yes, even you with your house and your front and backyard lawn can turn those plots into carbon sequestering powerhouses), nursery owners and more can utilize the power of algae to reduce carbon dioxide.
In summary, soil carbon sequestration is a promising approach to mitigating climate change. By using micro-algae to enhance soil carbon capture, we can help reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and store it in soil. This can help slow down global warming and its negative effects on our planet. While it is not a completely guaranteed way of removing the negative impacts human industry has on the planet, it does provide a way for growers and individuals to reduce their impact on carbon dioxide emissions. As humans continue to utilize industry for large scale production of goods, solutions will need to be created that control the amount of atmospheric emissions. Algae fertilizers and soil carbon sequestration is an affordable way for anyone to offset emissions.
If you’d like to learn more about algae based fertilizers, check out Algaeo.com!