In this report, scientists studied carbon dioxide efflux, soil temperature, and soil moisture under two different land uses – residential lawns and agricultural corn fields in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. What they found is that more carbon dioxide is released from residential lawns than corn fields. Much of the difference can be attributed to soil temperature, meaning that a deeper layer of mulch and greater percentage of yards covered in mulch can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions from lawns.
The report also discusses links to soil biology and the positive link with carbon dioxide cycling. What then becomes a key question is whether soil microbes are critical to increasing soil water holding capacity (worm holes and increased soil porosity created by the work of microbes). As the old axiom goes “water follows carbon”. Thus to increase water, we must have more microbes, but we must also find a way to trap carbon into the soil. This relates to the role of biochar as a carbon filter in the soil. Applications of 5% biochar in the soil can make a visual difference in plant performance. At the 5% level, biochar is able to capture nitrogen and other microbial emissions before they can become Nitrous Oxides (298x more global warming potential than carbon dioxide) and methane. These become raw nutrients for your soil and plants. Biochar becomes a great alchemist at capturing a potential harmful material and preserving it as something our plants and soil biology need.