News

  • Measuring soil organic carbon on smallholder farms in Ghana

    This 10-minute video illustrates how to plan a soil sampling campaign for an emission reduction project in smallholder systems and how to measure soil carbon contents.
    The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the IRD developed the video with cooperation from research partners at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana.

    The Video is based on the soil carbon chapter in the book “Methods for Measuring Greenhouse Gas Balances and Evaluating Mitigation Options in Smallholder Agriculture”. Available free at Springer Link.

  • Organic cuts agriculture’s contribution to climate change

    A new research by The Organic Center and Northeastern University proves organic agriculture keeps more carbon in soil and out of atmosphere and helps to fight climate change. The groundbreaking study proves soils on organic farms store away appreciably larger amounts of carbons – and for longer periods – than typical agricultural soils. The important study, directed by Northeastern University in collaboration with The Organic Center, provides a new significant proof point that organic agricultural practices build healthy soils and can be part of the solution in the fight on global warming.

    The study is based on one of the largest field studies of its kind ever conducted. One of its most compelling findings is that on average, organic farms have 44% higher levels of humic acid -the component of soil that sequesters carbon over the long term – than soils not managed organically. The new data will be published in the Oct.1 issue of the scientific journal Advances in Agronomy.

    Farmer samples show organic stores more carbon

    This is the first time scientific research has given an accurate picture of the long-term soil carbon storage on organic versus conventional farms throughout the U.S., since most studies focus on individual farms or total soil organic carbon. The Organic Center’s study takes farms from around the nation into account and looks at the most accurate measure of carbon sequestration.
The study shows that the components of humic substances – fulvic acid and humic acid – were consistently higher in organic than in conventional soils.

    The research found that, on average, soils from organic farms had:
    • 13 percent higher soil organic matter
    • 150 percent more fulvic acid
    • 44 percent more humic acid
    • 26 percent greater potential for long-term carbon storage

    Groundbreaking Study

    “This study is truly groundbreaking,” said Dr. Jessica Shade, Director of Science Programs for The Organic Center. “We don’t just look at total soil organic carbon, but also the components of soil that have stable pools of carbon – humic substances, which gives us a much more accurate and precise view of the stable, long-term storage of carbon in the soils.”
    
“To our knowledge, this research is also the first to take a broad-view of organic and conventional systems, taking into account variation within management styles, across crops, and throughout the United States. It gives a large-scale view of the impact of organic as a whole, throughout the nation,” said Dr. Shade.“Our study compares soils from the real world, and its findings can have a huge impact on the real world,” said Dr. Shade. “These results highlight the potential of organic agriculture to increase the amount of carbon sequestration in the soil, and by doing so, help decrease a major cause of climate change.”

    For more information visit The Organic Center

    The Organic Center’s mission is to convene credible, evidence-based science on the health and environmental benefits of organic food and farming, and to communicate the findings to the public. The Center is an independent non-profit research and education organization operating under the administrative auspices of the Organic Trade Association.

    (text from www.organic-market.info)

  • Event notes and outcome documents on soil

    A lot is going on currently in the world of Soils and Soil Organic Matter, don’t miss the outcomes of the following conferences:

    6th International Symposium
    on Soil Organic Matter
    Healthy soils for sustainable agriculture: the role of SOM
    3–7 September 2017 • Rothamsted Research • Harpenden (United Kingdom)
    http://www.som2017.org/

    Jahrestagung der Deutschen Bodenkundlichen Gesellschaft in Göttingen
    2–7 September 2017 • Universität Göttingen • Göttingen (D)
    https://www.dbges.de/de/jahrestagung-goettingen-2017

    Unlocking the Potential of Soil Organic Carbon
    Outcome Document of the Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon from March 2017
    http://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/25eaf720-94e4-4f53-8f50-cdfc2487e1f8/
    http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/soil-organic-carbon-symposium/en/

  • Higher profitability with organic agriculture in Kenya

    The researchers of FiBL (Research Institute of Organic Agriculture) have shown that in Kenya organic farming systems perform much better than conventional ones; the yields were comparable but the profitability of organic production was 1.3 to 4.1 times higher after 5 years compared to conventional production.

    Organic farming in sub-Saharan Africa is productive, economically viable and resource-conserving

    A long-term study in Kenya shows that maize yields and nutrient uptake in the organic farming systems are quite similar to conventional systems. Due to premium prices, organic systems are more profitable for farmers than conventional ones. The study was carried out by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) in close cooperation with partners in Kenya.

    Source:

    http://www.fibl.org/en/service-en/news-archive/news/article/biologische-landwirtschaft-in-afrika-ist-produktiv-wirtschaftlich-und-ressourcenschonend.html

  • People4Soil: sign the citizens’ initiative to save the soils of Europe!

    www.people4soil.eu

    Soil is one of the most strategic resources of Europe, as it ensures food security, biodiversity conservation and climate change regulation. It’s time to protect the soils of Europe with the people4soil campaign, a European Citizen Initiative.

    Safeguarding the soil with laws is the primary way of protecting people, plants, and animals. Without healthy, alive soil, there is no future. Healthy, alive soil protects us from environmental disasters, from climate change, from poisons all around.

    More than 400 associations have joined together as part of the People4Soil coallition which asks the EU for specific regulations to protect the soil, which is as essential to life as water and air. Save soil with your signature at www.people4soil.eu

    Recognize soil as a shared heritage that needs EU level protection, as it provides essential benefits connected to human well-being and environmental resilience; develop a dedicated legally binding framework covering the main soil threats: erosion, sealing, organic matter decline, biodiversity loss and contamination; integrate soil related UN Sustainable Development Goals into EU policies; properly account and reduce greenhouse gases emissions from the farming and forestry sectors.

  • Sustainable farming practices to improve soil fertility and food security (part 1)

    Slash & Mulch in semi-arid West Africa

    Slash & Mulch and how it attracts termites which help to loosen the soil, especially crusted soils to rebuild organic matter.
    Read more at www.agriculturesnetwork.org

    Composting rice straw in Southeast Asia

    Instead of dumping the abundant rice straw in the Irrawaddy Delta farmers compost it together with fresh leaves (banana trunk, water hyacinths, leaves) in a simple way. Doing this, they safe money for fertilizers which cannot even build-up organic matter in the soil.
    Read more at www.agriculturesnetwork.org

    Fertilizer trees in Southeast Africa

    Farmers in Malawi are growing nitrogen fixing trees and shrubs to improve soil fertility and food productivity especially on degraded land.
    Read more at www.worldagroforestry.org

    Traditional fallows in arid South America

    In the arid highlands of the Bolivian Andes farmers prepare long-term fallows for resilient farming. 3-12 months before the 2-month rainy season they build manure piles brought from grazing areas and cut tall shrubs to cover the piles. When the rainy season starts they spread the manure and till it into the soil. Afterwards they cover it with straw from a local grass against drying-out and erosion. Six months later crops, preferably potato, can be planted on a comparably fertile soil.
    Read more at www.agriculturesnetwork.org

  • Saving soils at coffee smallholder farms at Lintong, North Sumatra

    Proving the support of local microorganisms in soil

    The team of the Save Our Soils Fund was active in North Sumatra and assessed the impact of organic fertilizers enriched with local microorganisms (MOL-technique) on soil fertility. You can find our Project Paper here.

    The team visited 9 smallholder coffee farmers in North Sumatra which are strongly supported by our partners Progreso foundation, the Lutheran World Relief (LWR) and the Orangutan Information Centre (OIC). Thereby, the soil was sampled and partners and farmers were trained to sample by themselves.
    The soil was analyzed in the laboratory and soil erosion was estimated with the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation.

    The results showed that after several months MOL-enriched organic fertilizers are a good start – the trial fields show more humus and exchangeable actions. But there are still nutrient deficiencies, because the fertilization rate was relatively low at some fields.
    It was shown how to overcome these deficiencies and soil erosion through increased MOL application, mulching, legume catch and cover crops, etc.

    You can find our Project Paper heresumatra2

     

  • The True Cost of Food

    Why organic is not too expensive, but conventional too cheap

    Our partners at Nature& More have launched an exciting new campaign. They want to identify the true cost of food!

    Organic vegetables and fruits are the best, aren’t they? But they seem expensive.

    Nature & More argues that conential food is too cheap.

    How do they do come to this conclusion? Check out the video below.

  • Saving Soils in West Africa!

    Saving Soils in West Africa!

    The Save Our Soils Fund has been working in Ghana over the last few months and we have reported about the project in much detail here.

    Now we bring you the most crucial information on one page SOS Project Paper Ghana!

    We hope you find our work inspiring and we would appreciate your continued support. You can donate here!

  • Visual Soil Assessment – FAO Guide

    FAO Guide to Visual Soil Assessments

    Soil sampling and analysis campaign can often be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming. The FAO offers a visual method that makes these assessments affordable globally – especially in smallholder contexts.

    You can download the guide here VisualSoilAssessment_FAO

    If you want to continue supporting the Save Our Soils Fund, please consider donating here.