Leaving crop residues to rot in agricultural fields could help curb climate change

Leaving farm fields unkempt could help curb climate change. That’s the takeaway from a new study in Nature Communications, which concluded that leaving crop leftovers to decompose on the ground helps produce fungi that can trap carbon in the soil four times longer than if the ground is cleared away. As reported in Anthropocene, the study analyzed soil samples that had been covered in maize stalks for three months and found that chunkier soils, in particular, were better at trapping carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. Fortunately, the practice of leaving crop residues to rot on fields is not new. Many farmers already do this to improve crop health and yields.

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