Soil carbon directly impacts the chemical, physical and biological health of the soil by influencing factors such as infiltration, soil moisture/nutrient holding capacity and by supporting the healthy development of microbial communities.
Soil organic carbon exists as:
- living carbon: plant roots, microbes, earth worms and other living components of the soil ecosystem; these play the important role in cycling carbon in the soil
- labile carbon: decomposing plant and animal material such as composts and mulch. A portion of labile carbon will be broken down by microbes and provide nutrients for plants or feed microbial communities. A small percentage may become stable soil carbon.
- stable soil carbon: results from exudates provided by soil microbial communities, these communities are reliant on living plants to provide basic sugars for the cycling process. Humus also forms from older decayed organic carbon.
- resistant organic carbon: inert materials such as charcoal provide a habitat for soil microbial communities.
Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin are working with land managers and farming groups to demonstrate and implement management strategies which act to increase soil carbon. Through increasing our soil organic carbon we aim to increase the resilience of our soils and better safeguard our region for the future.
For more information click on the below links for reports and fact sheets on soil carbon.
Holistic grazing with Dick Richardson
Scratching the Surface: soil biology in agriculture forum
The Soil Story narrated by Larry Kopald (Healthy Soils Australia)