The millions of microbes living within the soil can be affected by the fluctuating global carbon levels. Discover the effects of climate change on soil microbiomes and what you can do to reduce the damage. You’ll learn the best soil management practices to support healthy crop production and maintain biodiversity.
The Complexity of Soil Microbiome
The microorganisms found in soil are said to be the foundation of all life on earth. To further understand its importance, picture this. There are more microorganisms in a teaspoon of soil than people on earth.
Bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, and more interact in many ways, affecting the rest of the living things on the planet. The current knowledge of researchers to outline these interactions is very limited.
We must also consider that soil microorganisms break down plant organic matter and produce carbon. This carbon is stored in the ground or released in the air as carbon dioxide.
How Soils are Affected by Climate Change
The change in temperature and water availability can profoundly affect soil microbiomes. But it’s challenging to generalize the impact of climate change.
We know that extreme rain downpour results in runoff and erosion, removing the critical nutrients for agriculture. The sea level may rise and increase groundwater salinization because of saltwater.
But reduced precipitation can also result in increased heat and desertification. More farmers will lose their crops and the rest of their land.
The effect of climate change on soil goes beyond agricultural disturbances. It can also threaten food security on the planet and affect the health of humans and animals.
Microbes Won’t Go Extinct
Whatever happens, microbes in the soil will not go extinct. These microorganisms are adaptable but will change in composition as climate changes. There need to be more studies on how its composition will change because predicting is tricky.
What You Can Do
Researchers have varying recommendations on how one can mitigate the effect of climate change on the soil. Some promote the use of soil organic matter, while others suggest the regular applications of compost.
You can also consider bioinoculants or probiotics like Syngenta to use beneficial microbes. However, their effectiveness isn’t studied well yet.
The most effective practice you can try is to nurture your soil as best as possible. Here are other tips to consider.
- Add micromanure to help build soil organic matter.
- Use organic fertilizers like blood meal grass clippings.
- Use a cover crop like clover beans, vetch, or rye to protect your soil over winter.
- Use drip irrigation or a soaker hose instead of a sprinkler.
Individual efforts are helpful, but more is needed to curb the emission of greenhouse gasses. Political and global changes are required to reduce climate change and keep the soil microbiome healthy for agriculture.
Maintain Healthy Soil and Prevent Climate Change
Soil conservation and land management can help mitigate climate change and combat soil degradation. In Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner is told, “If you build it, he will come.” The same is true with maintaining soil microbiomes. All the tiny creatures in the soil will thank you if you build them a suitable habitat.