Fungi may be the Answer to our Carbon ProblemsJuly 13, 2017
Many people today are becoming more and more aware of the problems carbon causes, for the planet itself and the people who inhabit it. For those unaware of this type of science, carbon is produced when fossil fuels are burned to produce energy. When that carbon makes its way into the air it becomes carbon dioxide and pollutes not only our air, but also our wildlife, our oceans and every aspect of our Earth.
The science classes that we all took in elementary school taught us that while humans breathe out this carbon dioxide after taking in valuable oxygen, plants work in the opposite direction. They consume carbon dioxide while expelling oxygen, which is why greenspaces have become more important than ever in today’s ever-declining environment.
But Colin Averill of the University of Texas at Austin, along with his colleagues, has now found that something other than those greenspaces may be an even bigger answer to that problem. And that answer is fungi.
In the soil, there is a symbiotic relationship going on. Microscopic creatures are all working together, taking from plants while giving back to them; while also working together to, unbeknownst to them, creating a healthier soil and storing carbon. Averill has found through his research that one microorganism in particular is more responsible for storing carbon than any other – even the greenspaces we’ve attributed it to in the past. That microorganism is fungi.
How is fungus a microorganism? Well yes, while we may associate fungi with the beautiful morels, chanterelles and truffles that sometimes make their way to our dinner tables may be the first type we think of, most fungus is invisible to the naked eye. And it doesn’t pop out on top of the soil like we’re most accustomed to but instead, rests below the soil.
Consider that every time a leaf falls, a shrub dies, or branches make their way to the ground, some of the carbon gets released back into the atmosphere, but some also stays in the soil. When it does, fungus takes the greatest share of it. This was found when Averill and his team studied the soil carbon and nitrogen in different ecosystems, namely the boreal forests of the north, the temperate woodlands, tropical forests and the grasslands.
What they found was that fungus had a greater impact on carbon stored in the soil more so than temperature, rainfall, and levels of soil clay. In fact, in areas where fungi – namely arbuscular mycorrhiza – were high, the carbon retention of the soil was 70% higher than in areas that did not have this type of fungus in the soil.
This is a startling discovery, as up until now the presence of fungus and the benefits it brings for carbon retention in soil has been unknown. And now that we know about it, we can start to do more about it.
Fungus and the other microbes that lay deep within the soil will always be far more effective than toxic fertilizers and pesticides, and it’s one of the ingredients we use here at Stangl’s in our Nature’s Brew – before we or anyone else even knew about the many benefits it has to offer!
At Stangl’s, we’re not afraid to turn conventional thinking on its head; and we get excited about this kind of ongoing research that validates what we do and proves that, nature is always better than the noxious chemicals being used by most lawn care companies today.
We want you to get excited with us about your lawn and the many possibilities it brings for your family and the environment – give us a call today to learn more!