If you were to pick up a handful of healthy soil, you’d be holding billions of microorganisms in your hands. Yes, billions. And when those healthy soil microbes work in harmony with plants and animals, they sequester carbon. That means the key to combating climate change is literally right beneath our feet.
The problem is that modern, commercial farming has poisoned, over-tilled, and literally killed the soil in so much of the world. The result is desertification and the release of carbon into the atmosphere. And yet, there is hope: there is a movement promoting regenerative agriculture – a method of farming that focuses on increasing biodiversity (both above and below ground), enriching the soil, and improving watersheds. The results are stunning. In the documentary I watched, called Kiss the Ground, the results were clear. On a ranch in South Dakota, a rancher had turned to regenerative farming after suffering many years of crop loss due to weather. Today, his ranch is lush and full of biodiversity; the adjacent ranch is dusty, brown, and dead. There were similar results over an enormous area in China; once almost devoid of life, the area is now thriving.
Working with Mother Nature, instead of against her, means that not only do crop yields increase and become more resilient to climate instability, but carbon is captured and stored by plants and microorganisms (a process called biosequestration). If we change the way we raise and grow our food, we can begin to heal the planet one field at a time. We can restore balance.