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Specially designed soils could help combat climate change

Earth/Science News
The concept underlying the initiative exploits the fact that plants, crops and trees naturally absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) during photosynthesis and then pump surplus carbon through their roots into the earth around them. In most soils, much of this carbon can escape back to the atmosphere or enters groundwater. But in soils containing calcium-bearing silicates (natural or man-made), the team believe the carbon that oozes out of a plant’s roots may react with the calcium to form the harmless mineral calcium carbonate. The carbon then stays securely locked in the calcium carbonate, which simply remains in the soil, close to the plant’s roots, in the form of a coating on pebbles or as grains. A key benefit is that combating climate change in this way promises to be cheap compared with other processes. “We could potentially see applications in 2-3 years, including a number of ‘quick wins’ in the land restoration sector.”

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