As scientists search for ways to reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, agricultural researchers found a new, and simple, tool — leave crop residues in the field. Crop stubble and mulch left on the soil surface is broken down by soil life, primarily fungi. The carbon that the plants took up (as carbon dioxide) when they were living will then be stored in the soil – not released back to the atmosphere.
For organic farmers, the practice is nothing new. Organic farmers often leave crop residue on the surface (rather than tilling it under, removing it or burning it). This practice has long been recommended as a way to help protect the soil from erosion, reduce nutrient leaching and provide habitat for soil life. The effect on climate change is yet another benefit of this regenerative organic farming practice.
To read more about this research, see “Let crop residues rot in the field — it’s a climate win”