“Two crises are threatening our future: too much carbon in the atmosphere, and not enough carbon in the soil,” said Guy Hudson, Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer, Soil Carbon Co. “And there is a single solution that can tackle both problems.
Soil Carbon Co. is a biotech company made up of more than 30 microbiologists, agronomists, farmers and entrepreneurs. United in their drive to address climate change, each member of the team is working at different scales to solve the same problem: to remove carbon from the atmosphere and improve the world’s soils.
They do this by developing a technology that captures carbon from the atmosphere on a gigatonne scale and return it to the soil. This improves soil health and allows farmers to trade a new commodity called ‘carbon offsets’.
“We have developed a microbial seed coating, which harnesses tiny dark microbes that have the power to return CO2 back to the soil and lock it away for the long term. The microorganisms also help increase carbon in the soil, boosting fertility, resilience, and productivity on farmland,” explains Guy.
“If rolled out across the world’s cropping land, our technology has the potential to remove CO2 on a massive scale. The opportunity to restore the world’s agricultural soils, mitigate climate change, and turn carbon into an asset lies just below our feet.”
Just how bad is our carbon situation right now? According to the latest data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has hit a record high once again at 416 ppm.
Capturing and storing CO2 presents a promising solution and currently, microbial soil sequestration promises to be among the most efficient ways of doing that as it requires no additional land, energy, or equipment. Its adoption doesn’t rely on farmers dramatically changing their behaviour or investing in new machinery.
“It is scalable and starts working within the first growing season. Our technology is already being deployed and is making a difference. Farmers use our seed coating — a common and simple farming practice — then sow their crop seeds as normal,” says Guy.
“We have isolated microbes with the unique ability to store carbon in tiny, compressed particles of soil called ‘soil micro-aggregates’. These micro-aggregates provide a stable home, where carbon can be stored for the long-term. Building soil carbon levels boosts yield, increases nutrient cycling, and builds drought resilience. Trials on our canola products have shown a 7% increase in yield and 2.6 tCO2e stored per hectare. This also provides opportunities for growers to unlock value on the carbon markets.”
The time seems to be ripe for this technology. Soil Carbon Co. believes that by 2030, its products will be in the ground drawing down gigatonnes of CO2 across multiple farming systems in both emerging and developed markets.
The technology works for systems of all sizes – be it a truckload of treated seed planted on a corporate farm in Australia down or a handful of microbes on a family farm in Asia.
“Soil sequestration is the tool that gives the world time to build and adapt to infrastructure for a carbon-negative economy and sustainable future,” concludes Guy.