One of the most positive and profitable searches for crop profits is the new enthusiasm for “Soil Health” among farmers, extension agronomists and ag fertility firms. However, climate activists anxiously question the soil’s role in CO2 emissions.
August 23, 2017 By Jerry Carlson — I wonder how soon the political powers who claim carbon dioxide as the root of planet-threatening “climate change” will try to mandate soil sterilization. Their pretext: Choke a massive source of CO2 emissions. Soil organisms exude billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually.
That attack by global warmists would be bordering on insanity, of course. But it would be a simple extension of the two-decade mania which has led the U.S. to declare carbon dioxide as a planetary “pollutant.” That claim has already enabled the EPA to regulate CO2 emissions, which the Paris Climate Accord says will threaten human survival. Various studies indicate that the world’s soils contain three times as much carbon as the world’s above-ground vegetation.
Fortunately, more knowlegeable scientists realize that growing crops absorb carbon dioxide as an energy source and cell builder. One of my most memorable agronomy insights came about 10 years ago. I stood in an Illinois soybean field one August with Dr. Jerry Hatfield, director of the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment. Hatfield told me: “As much as half of this total soybean crop is built from carbon dioxide emitted from respiring soil organisms.”
Leaves in a thick crop canopy inhale much of this rich carbon dioxide cargo before it rises into the atmosphere. An abundant soil food web of bacteria, fungi and larger creatures exhale CO2. It rises from the soil, enabling a porous soil to absorb oxygen into the aerobic zone. Each pound of new long-lasting soil humus extracts 3.6 pounds of atmospheric CO2.
Thus, building a living soil and enriching soil organic matter does make soil an effective carbon storehouse. But the major value of abundant soil life and good organic (carbon) content is abundant soil productivity for crops. Not for just sequestering carbon dioxide.
Many independent scientists demonstrate that atmospheric CO2 levels have had negligible impact on climate change over the centuries. The current U.S. presidential administration has had the audacity to acknowledge the fact: That first “global warming” then “climate change” is a pretext for grabbing taxpayer money along with political power to extract ever more money. The president’s latest move: disbanding an “Advisory Committee” set up to legitimize this power grab. Here’s a link to that report.
This fact that warmists have cooked the climate-record books was reaffirmed again in a mostly ignored scientific paper by John Abbot and Jennifer Marohasy, published in GeoResJ, a globally respected journal. This research leaped from obscurity today.
British journalist James Delingpole described it in a report posted on our favorite news website, To the Point, led by Jack Wheeler. The study confirmed, using data which has not been diddled by NASA or other creative warmists, that today’s planetary temperature is well within bounds of long-term variability. Although both of our linked sources require password access, we’ll assert “fair comment” rules and snitch just one chart from the Abbot/Marohasy analysis:
This chart spans amost 2,000 years, starting with AD 50. Note that the latest trend reversal is downward, not up. Delingpole quips that it took a statistical illusionist known as the “Hockey Stick” (by former Penn State climatologist Michael Mann) to obfuscate the real story. In a civil court trial, Mann refused to hand over his original data for fair, unbalanced scrutiny by rational scientists.
Mann’s adversary in court, Dr. Tim Ball, quipped that Mann “belongs in the state pen, not Penn State.” Years before this trial, a statistics professor friend of ours showed that the statistical procedure Mann used would predict a sudden surge even if fed with random data. However, it fueled the “global warming” mantra, so the Hockey Stick chart became the showpiece of Al Gore’s first movie on the subject, An Inconvenient Truth.
A wide array of long-term climate data series have verified that climatic warming has preceded, not followed, uptrends in atmospheric CO2 levels. Dinosaurs thrived because a carbon-rich atmosphere of that era fueled massive vegetative growth for their food source. So if worldwide warming ensues, fear dinosaurs, not poor crops.
Now, here is the payload of this report, through which you’ve soldiered through so bravely. The real crop production danger in upcoming seasons is persistent northern hemisphere cooling, in synch with long-term solar energy cycles. Now this is a cycle with statistical, potentially dangerous clout. Agronomist Dr. Louis M. Thompson revealed to Pro Farmer seminars the power of the 11-year double sunspot cycle back in the 1970s. That 11-year cycle embodies longer trends with higher and lower peaks. The current long-term trend: Down, to a quieter sun. (If you watched the solar eclipse this week, you may have noted the sun’s horizon looked rather calm; hardly any flares from active sunspots. Just a little flicker on the right edge of the disk as the moon’s masking moved toward the left, from our viewpoint. The sun is approaching a low point in Solar Cycle 24. If this cycle retraces its analog, Solar Cycle 5, the sun’s eruptive activity could remain subdued for several years. And then… Solar Cycle 26 could be even more muted.)
The long-term climatic rise and fall of global temperatures is most closely linked with centuries-long cycles in solar energy. One ag analyst who tracks this relationship diligently is Bill Fordham, founder of C&S Grain Market Consulting of Ohio, IL (815-303-5801)
Bill gave us permission to post one of his recent long-term solar cycle charts, below. It overlays the most recent cycles, SC 22 through SC 24, with a historic precedent, SC 3 through SC 6. The early series includes years 1775 through 1823. This nearly half-century dealt agriculture the chilly “Dalton Minimum” from about 1796 to 1820. That persistent sunspot low correlated with consistent crop losses in the northern hemisphere. That era was capped by another, different forcing event, the eruption of Mt. Tambora in Indonesia in April of 1815, which led to a more dramatic “year without a summer” in 1815.
Bill’s analysis: “What happened during the last Dalton Minimum COLD Era might be similar to a new Dalton Minimum Type Era that could end with very COLD temperatures during Solar Cycle 26.” That is, in the next 15 to 20 years. After living through 50-plus years of farming, I’ve learned that 15 to 20 years can sweep past much more quickly than expected.
Bottom line: The next several seasons offer you opportunities to upgrade the life in your soil using the new “biological farming” technologies included in what we label Renewable Farming. A living soil is a fundamental defense and buffer against adverse weather — not enough rain or too much. Too cold, too warm.
Your best insurance for healthy soil: WakeUP and live in-furrow microbials like AgriEnergy’s SP-1. They’re eco-friendly aids for building soil biolife. WakeUP Summer amplifies the effectiveness of foliar-applied fertility and biostimulant products. We’ve learned that WakeUP Spring and SP-1 increase yield response.