Why Protecting Soil Carbon Is a Win-win for Farmers and the Planet

In 2019, a United Nations report laid out a bitter truth: The current food system is fueling the destruction of Earth’s forests — and humanity must overhaul how we grow and ship food to stop climate breakdown.

But countries are struggling to keep farming sustainable while meeting the mounting demand for production — which must increase by between 25 percent and 70 percent by 2050 to feed growing populations.

A groundbreaking new study reports that the secret to making this possible lies in the soil — or more specifically, in the carbon stored in the soil.

Conservation News spoke with Conservation International scientist Bronson Griscom, a co-author on the study, about the vast potential of soil to help halt climate change and why protecting soil carbon is a “win-win for farmers and the planet.”

Kiley Price: Let’s start at the beginning. How exactly does soil store carbon?

Bronson Griscom: Trees and plants suck up carbon from the air and use it to store energy and build their stems, leaves and roots.