In 10 seconds? Researchers have confirmed that soil organic carbon levels are dropping in fields due to excess nitrogen, which mostly comes from fertilizers. Their study also sheds a light on how intensive agriculture can impact the soil’s ability to retain carbon.

Why is carbon so important? Soil organic carbon is important for soil health, improving water and nutrient retention and reducing the risks of nonpoint source pollution (pollution resulting from small amounts of contaminants across a larger area) such as herbicides and insecticides as well as the use of excess fertilizers. Good soil health also increases and sustains agricultural productivity which is important for feeding a growing world. Soil is a good carbon sink and carbon can be stored within soil organic matter (SOM), an important factor for mitigating global climate change. However, agricultural practices disturb the soil, exposing it to oxygen which results in the carbon being burnt off. Farmers incorporate crop residues to boost soil organic carbon.

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