New Mexico State University professor David Johnson has been presenting some very interesting research he’s done on the capability of high quality compost to increase soil biology and sequester more carbon. In a presentation titled “Managing Soil Microbiology to Increase Soil Carbon Sequestration,” Johnson talks about the BEAM (Biologically Enhanced Agricultural Management) approach which centers around creating compost in a bioreactor that he and his wife, Hui-Chun Su Johnson, have developed. In his research plots, Johnson has been adding BEAM compost at a rate of about 400-500 pounds per acre and then measuring the MNPP (grams of dry above ground biomass/sq meter/year) that is produced.
Johnson notes that cultivated fields yield about 650 grams. However, a transitional BEAM field will yield 1980 grams and an advanced BEAM field will yield as much as 4279 grams. Furthermore, that production comes from increased soil carbon which in a transitional field is 10.7 tons C/ha/year. In the advanced field it is 19.2 tons C/ha/year. That amounts to 37 tons of CO2/ha/year sequestered.
He has seen double the productivity in one year. Because much of the carbon is being stored in the soil rather than respired by the plant, he has found that while there is a 20 times increase in carbon mass, there is only four times the increase in carbon respiration. Based on his research he believes that we would only need 25% of the current arable land in production to sequester all the anthropogenic fossil fuel emissions if the BEAM approach was used on that land.
Watch this video to learn how to make this compost reactor.
To learn more about how Holistic Management creates biologically active soil and the results farmers and ranchers have achieved, visit HMI’s A Holistic Approach to Soil page.
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