New ways of digging the dirt could lead to a major advance, and farmers in the developing world are making a difference.
New research shows that changing farming and soil management practices so that soils store carbon rather than lose it would help avoid dangerous climate change.
Greenhouse gases from cattle, fertilizers, manure and agriculture mean that human activities have turned the land and soil into part of the global warming machine.
One straightforward way to combat both climate change and mass hunger is to replace carbon lost from the soil.
If Arctic soils melt and release frozen carbon, the impact would cost almost half the world’s annual gross domestic product, researchers say.
How soil organisms cope with decaying vegetation is much less certain than climate models suppose, researchers say, and carbon emission estimates may be wrong.
Arctic warming is causing organic carbon that has been frozen deep in the soil for millennia to be released rapidly into the air as CO2, with potentially catastrophic impacts on the climate.
Managing moorlands so that more birds can be reared for lucrative shooting parties is adding to climate change by destroying layers of peat and releasing large quantities of stored carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
As global temperatures warm, scientists say that in both Australia and the Arctic natural processes are at work to help mitigate the increased heat.
Deep beneath the Great Plains of America, scientists have discovered a vast buried store of organic carbon that poses a potentially serious danger to the climate.