A new weapon in the carbon fight

A new weapon in the carbon fight


It is not usual to think of soils in the context of climate change. Policy is usually focussed on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the electricity sector, transport and industry

The Need

There has been a renewed interest in understanding how soils can serve as a sink for carbon dioxide since atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have crossed 410 parts per million and oceans are already turning acidic.

Help in transition

Besides, increasing soil carbon offers a range of co-benefits and this would buy us time before other technologies can help us transition to a zero-carbon lifestyle.

Carbon pools inside earth

Significant carbon pools on earth are found in the earth’s crust, oceans, atmosphere and land-based ecosystems

Soils, the largest pool

Soils contain roughly 2,344 Gt (1 gigatonne = 1 billion tonnes) of organic carbon, making this the largest terrestrial pool

Soil Organic Carbon

  • Soil organic carbon (SOC) comes from plants, animals, microbes, leaves and wood, mostly found in the first metre or so
  • There are many conditions and processes that determine changes to SOC content including temperature, rainfall, vegetation, soil management and land-use change.

Many benefits

Increasing SOC through various methods can improve soil health, agricultural yield, food security, water quality, and reduce the need for chemicals.

Methods to increase SOC

Approaches to increase SOC include reducing soil erosion, no-till-farming, use of cover crops, nutrient management, applying manure and sludge, water harvesting and conservation, and agroforestry practices

Huge Proportional increase in crop yield

Rattan Lal from Ohio State University estimates that an increase of just 1 tonne of soil carbon pool of degraded cropland soils can increase crop yield by several kilograms per hectare

Offsetting GHG emissions

Moreover, carbon sequestration in soils has the potential to offset GHG emissions from fossil fuels by up to 15% annually

Soil and agriculture

Agri yields have dropped due to degraded soils

Agricultural yields have begun to drop in many places for a variety of reasons primarily related to degraded soils

Industrial effects

Industrial changes to agriculture have led to a range of adverse effects: loss of biodiversity, elimination of beneficial microbes and insects, reduction in yield, contamination of water bodies and soils, and increasing toxicity and deaths from chemical use in farm households.

Indian eco-friendly farming methods must be considered

  • India has a large number of successful sustainable agricultural practices that are consistent with ecological principles.
  • These include natural farming (or as the Japanese farmer Masanobu Fukuoka calls it, ‘do-nothing farming’), permaculture and organic farming.
  • Personal and online reports indicate that the improvements to soil health and profits occur rapidly. But the knowledge and innovations of farmers who have successfully experimented with these methods must be considered in research and policy.

Lessons for India

Many of these practices have come into their own over several decades — through the efforts of farmers and sometimes with support from local groups — and the time is long past where these are regarded as outlandish alternative methods.

Policymakers should consider these practices

Given that these techniques can contribute to relieving a range of challenges, State-level policy makers need to understand better the successes on the ground in India’s different agro-climatic zones

Transitioning to be made smoother

They also need to identify what kinds of support are needed by farmers with small holdings to transition from existing practices.

Neglecting our own

Not paying attention to the successes of our own farmers has partly contributed to the agrarian crisis the country now faces.

Parliamentary Standing Committee Report

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture in its 2016 report in fact recommended “revision of the existing fertiliser subsidy policy and promotion of organic fertilizers”.

  • The government has been promoting a Soil Health Card scheme to measure the health of the soils in different parts of the country and in each farm.
  • There is little policy support for natural farming and the alternatives
  • The fertilizer lobby, extension services, and the many agricultural scientists — unschooled in agroforestry and ecological methods — would oppose changes but these practices that integrate good management of soil, water and land provide a host of benefits


The ability of soils to sequester carbon is a win-win strategy for farmers, people and for climate change and it is time we stopped ignoring these at the policy levels.


  1. Glut: an excessively abundant supply of something.
  2. Goading: provoke or annoy (someone) so as to stimulate an action or reaction
  3. Trite: (of a remark or idea) lacking originality or freshness; dull on account of overuse
  4. Scotch: decisively put an end to


Senkaku/Diaoyu islands




Jammu & Kashmir

Following are the 5 national parks of J&K,

  • Dachigam National Park: Dachigam National Park is located at a distance of 22 km from Srinagar and covers an area of 141 sq. kms
    • Famous for:
      • Hangul also called as Kashmiri Stag
  • Salim Ali National Park: Salim Ali National Park is located in Srinagar and covers an area of 9.07 sq. km
    • Famous for:
      • Hangul
      • Musk Deer
      • Himalayan Black Bear
      • Seventy (70) species of birds including Paradise flycathcher, Himlayan Snow Cock
  • Kazinag National Park: Kazinag National Park is situate in North bank of Jhelum close to Line of Control in Baramulla district about 70 kms away from capital city Srinagar
    • Famous for:
      • The National Park is famous for Markhor (Capra falconeri)
      • Himalayan Musk Deer (Maschus crysogater) besides home of 120 species of birds and 20 species of mammals
  • Kishtwar High Altitude National Park: Kishtwar High Altitude National Park is a National Park located in the Kishtawar district and covers the area of about 400 sq. kms
    • Famous for:
      • Himalayan Snow Cock
      • Brown bear
  • Hemis National Park: Hemis National Park or Hemis High Altitude National Park is high altitutde national park in the eastern Ladakh region
    • Famous for
      • Snow Leopard
      • Asiatic ibex
      • Argali (Great Tibetian Sheep)


Print Friendly and PDF