A new study confirms what most scientists already know, and what proponents of industrial agribusiness either don’t get, or won’t admit: Nature abhors a monoculture. The study suggests that by restoring biodiversity, we can vastly enhance the soil’s potential to store carbon.
That’s good news for the climate. And there are co-benefits, too: healthier, more resilient soil and plants, not to mention wildlife habitats.
Scientists have long believed that soil aggregates—clusters of soil particles—were the principal locations for stable carbon storage. These clusters develop when tiny particles of soil clump together.
Mycorrhiza—the microscopic fungi which live in healthy soils—produce sticky compounds that help “glue” these clusters together helping to stabilize and protect the carbon particles inside them.
Now, a recent study out of the Michigan State University (MSU) Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, suggests that this soil clustering is most efficient when soil has a healthy “pore structure.” And the key to a healthy pore structure is plant biodiversity. According to the report:
Soils from restored prairie ecosystems, with many different plant species, had many more pores of the right size for stable carbon storage than did a pure stand of switchgrass.