Environment, Organic Policy and Regulations, What is Organic

Help Get The Dirt On Organic Soil!

Together we growTwo prominent researchers are working to answer that very question! Researchers at Northeastern University are collaborating with The Organic Center to examine the benefits that organic agriculture has on soil health.  Research Scientist Dr. Elham Ghabbour in collaboration with Professor Geoffrey Davies of the National Soil Project (NSP) are striving to determine the amount of sequestered carbon in organic farm top soil and compare them with conventional soil samples. They need YOUR HELP to “get the dirt” on soil samples for this important research project!

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their climate change 2014 synthesis report and it wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was their most dire and ominous communication to date. The report stated: “The gathering risks of climate change are so profound that they could stall or even reverse generations of progress against poverty and hunger.” The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said “Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message.”

There are many ways to mitigate the risks associated with these menacing changes and the health of our soil, and carbon sequestrations are essential components.

Carbon Sequestration also helps to regulate our climate. According to The Rodale Institute, “….we could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices, which we term “regenerative organic agriculture.” You can read more in the Wall Street Journal blog post, “Can Organic Farming Counteract Carbon Emissions?”

The primary efforts of our esteemed Northeastern University researchers are to construct a database that will enable farmers and scientists to correlate soil health and productivity with organic agricultural practices.  This essential tool is needed to maintain and improve the quality of our global treasure, TOPSOIL, through organic farming practices.

Their second objective will be to educate the public about the importance of safe and pure air, soil and water. Introducing their conventional and organic soil database as a reference tool will help develop awareness and standards for continued improvement. They aim to prove that when you spray chemicals onto the soil, you are poisoning the soil, in essence killing it.

Can you help and get a little dirty?

TOC ScienceSo far they have collected 2000 samples in all 50 US states. They are once again urging YOU dear reader to go out and get some dirt for this project! They wrote, “We urgently need organic farm soil samples to analyze for sequestered carbon and compare the data with data from conventional farm soil.”

Let’s confirm that organic farming leads to more sequestration! Soil organic matter (SOM) contributes to every attribute of a healthy, productive soil, such as, water retention, erosion resistance and nutrient storage.

They kindly ask that you send in an air-dried sample of agricultural topsoil from your County together with its geographical (GPS) location, texture and classification (if you know it). Gathering samples of organic and conventional soil in the same area are very valuable! They have a form where you can fill in historical data for the soil samples. Access everything you need here.

Get thee to your nearest certified organic farm and collect soil samples for the good of science and the benefit of organic research. Cross the road and gather some samples from the conventional neighboring farm.  Bring a plastic baggy and your smart device to detect the exact location, get your feet dirty, meet your local farmers and take a deep breathe of that good summer air while fulfilling your role in protecting our national treasure – Our Topsoil!

Let’s get digging!

If you have questions kindly contact:

Prof. Geoffrey Davies or Dr. Elham Ghabbour
Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology
Phone: (617)-373-2834             Fax: (617)-373-8795
E-mail: g.davies@neu.edu, www.hagroup.neu.edu or e.ghabbour@neu.edu


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