Can’t We All Agree That Adding Carbon to the Soil Is a Good Thing?

Agricultural practices that are good for the climate are also good for the soil, says No-Till Living Legend Randall Reeder

Many years ago, when half the adults in America smoked cigarettes, I remember a question about prayer: Is it OK to smoke while praying? Most people would say no. But if you reverse the question — Is it OK to pray while smoking? — you likely get a different answer

So, how about reversing the headline of this article to “Is Soil Smart ‘Climate Smart’?” YES! What’s good and smart for soil health is also good and smart for the climate. 

A few months ago, I read an article that listed climate-smart agriculture practices. I don't remember the source, but it defined these 5 practices as climate smart:

  1. Minimize soil disturbance (continuous no-till)
  2. Grow plants year-round (cover crops)
  3. Keep the ground covered (cover crops and crop residue)
  4. Diversify crop rotations 
  5. Include livestock when possible

Now, let’s name the five core practices to maintain and build soil quality. Wow, they are the exact same five. 

Can’t we all agree that adding carbon to the soil and storing it as organic matter is good? The only reasonable way to consistently build up organic matter on cropland is to no-till with cover crops. Our crops “breathe in” carbon dioxide from the air and “breathe out” oxygen. We humans like that because we do the opposite. 

Money Smart

Soil smart is also money smart over time. When transitioning from conventional tillage to no-till, getting past the 1st year (or 2 or 3) can be a financial challenge. It takes time for soil that has…

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Randall reeder

Randall Reeder

A West Virginia native and retired agriculture engineer from Ohio State University, Randall Reeder of Hilliard, Ohio, serves as executive director of the Ohio No-Till Council and the yearly Ohio No-Till Conference along with Ohio’s highly popular annual late winter Conservation Tillage Conference. 

In addition, Reeder brings to life the warmth and humor of American legend Will Rogers as he speaks to business and agriculture audiences. If you’ve seen photos of Will Rogers, the look-alike appearance of Reeder will have you doing a double-take, making you feel like you are in the presence of Will Rogers.

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