The Sustainable Use of Soil Organisms in a Climate Change Era
It has been widely acknowledged that we are in a climate change era. All forms of life are expected to mitigate or adapt to climate change to survive. It is a good practice to understand the natural green credentials associated with life around us- this will enable us to tap into such credentials and use them to further mitigate or adapt to changing environmental conditions, nd at the same time devise means to ensure such credentials are fully utilised.
Our attention here focuses on soil life. This includes organisms that spend part or all of their life in the soil. They represent nature and do a lot of good, such as help crop plants to grow sustainably and overcome some environmental challenges. They also help communities to resolve environmental issues. These will be discussed below using three examples.
Heavy Rainfall and Floods: One of the impacts of climate change is believed to be heavy rainfall. Heavy rainfall can create hazards by flooding human and plant communities as well as that of animals. Floods can destroy natural and man-made resources and have serious financial impacts. For example, in 2012 flood-damaged UK properties cost insurers over 1 billion pounds- it does cost fortunes to clean up and treat the aftermath effect of floods.
Soil bacteria can be used to stimulate the growth of trees and as a result, trees grow strong enough to withstand heavy rainfall by breaking the force of rain and/or run-off from uphill, thereby reducing the possibility of floods in the society. It has been reported by the USDA “ that 100 mature trees can reduce runoff caused by rainfall by up to 100,000 gallons”.
Droughts and hot temperatures: Another impact of climate change is drought. During droughts, plants are starved of water and this can slow down growth. However, plant roots treated with soil microorganisms tend to have deeper roots. This allows them to draw up water from the drying soil and maintain good growth levels for some period of time during droughts.
Also, when soil organism decomposes, they produce humus, a dark brown jelly-like substance. This substance makes the soil remain healthy. Healthier soils tend to hold more water and this can help plants to grow (for some time) in extremely hot temperatures and/or in the absence of water.
Climate Change: Nitrogen in its reduced form is a nutrient needed by plants for growth. The addition of synthetic fertilisers enables plants to obtain this nutrient. It is noteworthy that many fertilizers in today’s world are made with fossil materials or resources, giving off carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, thereby contributing to climate change. For example, fossil energy used to manufacture fertilisers produces carbon dioxide in the process.
However, soil organisms can be used to supply Nitrogen nutrients to plants in a clean way. This is due to the fact that soil organisms convert atmospheric nitrogen (N2 gas) to ammonia naturally- without the use of fossil energy and thus helping us to reduce the effect of climate change.
Also, the decomposition of soil organisms occurs naturally and this process supplies nitrogen to plants for growth.
Soil organisms can be protected and improved and in turn use to provide the nutrients required for plant’s growth, thereby reducing or getting rid of the use of fossil-based fertilisers in the agriculture sector.