[Market-farming] Loss of Soil Carbon After Tilling

Marty Kraft martyk at allspecies.org
Mon Oct 26 10:22:57 EDT 2009


I like the way you arrange your words. What you say makes sense about  
mulch not stopping the CO2 loss from tilling since the Oxygen has  
already been introduced under the surface. It would just percolate up  
through it. I doubt that my fork digging sweet potatoes introduces as  
much O2 as the spinning tines of a tiller.

I too want to know as much as i can about mineral and biological  
balance in the soil. It's the micro-guys that grow the plants, not  
me. I think that it's less work too if you know your stuff. Wish i  
knew more.

Have you ever considered introducing biochar or tera prita into your  
soil. I am looking at it now but not ready to act yet. I would like  
to slow climate change.

Kansas City
On Oct 26, 2009, at 7:03 AM, waldenfarm wrote:

> Don't know of any graphs- probably because carbon loss after  
> tillage differs
> because of different tillage methods, depth, bioactivity of the  
> soil... But
> there is carbon loss after all tillage. Tillage incorporates  
> relatively
> oxygen rich atmospheric air into the soil. This causes a population
> explosion in the soil biology and carbon compounds get processed at  
> a faster
> rate than in untilled soil. The end product of carbon compound  
> processing
> for food is carbon dioxide a gas.
> Simplified, carbon compounds are processed by the soil biology and  
> at the
> end of this chain it is converted to carbon dioxide, a gas. The CO2  
> in the
> soil readily leaves the soil through a number of mechanisms- gas  
> dispersion,
> heating and cooling of soil, displacement of soil gases by water, etc.
> As for your second question, mulching will not prevent carbon loss.  
> Mulching
> has other benefits I'm sure you're aware of- preventing soil crusting.
> suppressing weeds, retaining soil moisture, slowing soil heat/cool  
> cycle,
> reduce erosion, food at the surface for the soil ecosystem.
> I also practice no till gardening- double dug beds one time 24  
> years ago and
> only do surface cultivation. And I've grown sweet potatoes in beds-  
> it hurts
> me to tear up the beautiful soil structure diggin' taters, but they  
> sure
> taste good! The only thing I know of to heal the soil (rebuild  
> structure and
> replace lost carbon) is to add finished compost at or near the soil  
> surface
> and plant or transplant a cool weather crop that will overwinter. Then
> adding mulch would help protect the soil from crusting and erosion  
> until the
> soil biology can rebuild a stable structure.
> I hope I haven't gotten too technical, but my thinking is that I  
> have to
> know as much as I can about the soil and soil biologic processes to  
> be able
> to manage it.
> Enjoy those taters!
> Alex McGregor
> Walden Ridge, TN
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Marty Kraft" <martyk at allspecies.org>
> To: "Market Farming" <market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Saturday, October 24, 2009 11:48 AM
> Subject: [Market-farming] Loss of Soil Carbon After Tilling
>> Does anyone know of any graphs or other data showing the rate of
>> carbon loss after tilling? After i till a bed how quickly should it
>> be covered by mulch to prevent carbon loss? I am practicing no-till
>> gardening and i just dug two beds of sweet potatoes which is a lot
>> like tilling. It's raining and i haven't mulched yet. I'll cover the
>> soil when i can but this is a question that often arises. Does anyone
>> know of a rule of thumb for this question?
>> Where might i get this info?
>> Marty Kraft, Kansas City
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