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How to not lose the carbon we gained?

 
Xisca Nicolas
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Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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I am bothered by what becomes what I cut.

I prune my avocadoes or orange trees
I cut a lot of bush and tuneras pads
I have big piles and they dry more than they rot (dry climate).

I almost nerver burn, and water at the char stage when I do.
I resist to the everybody wonderful idea to have "una biotrituradora" for making chips (and noise and burn carbon for it....)
I eat no grain but grow them, sorghum, job's tears, pigeon peas. Better for hens and for carbon making. I eat the lima beans yes.

So I have some annual left-overs, and wood, and they are in big size. I have left some wood under the trees themselves.
What is the safest and most efficient way to process these?

I do not know to what point part of what is drying turns into CO2 and goes back to the air.
Something or nothing, or only if "I do something bad"?

What should I do as preventive measure, to insure that I keep this hardly earned carbon in the soil?
Thanks

I have the idea of asking for a little caterpilar, 3 feet wide, and burry the biggest part.
someone told me "Be careful, you will get nasty molds!"
I want this machine to remove some big stone that were left underground while terracing, and bury this stuff instead.
Good or bad?
Good if I burry at a precise depth?
 
Tyler Ludens
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geoff lawton seems to advocate leaving the cut material; leaves, sticks, logs, etc on the surface of the soil for fungi and critters to turn to humus.

 
Xisca Nicolas
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I do this, but too dry for the best result....
I also burry, so more like hugel style.

Mainly, I would like to know if some carbon is lost into the air when it dries on the surface.
Or is it the nitrogen that is lost more easily?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Bill Mollison advocated burying organic material in dry climates, but I think this can only gain us carbon if we don't use machinery - that we need to bury it by hand. You might be able to calculate whether or not you gain carbon by estimating the amount of carbon in the material as discussed in this thread http://www.permies.com/t/54718//Estimating-carbon-capture-perennial-crop and then calculating how much CO2 is generated by the machinery you want to use. I'm guessing that in most cases you'll be producing more carbon than you're sequestering, though this might be offset by other benefits which might accrue from burying organic material (benefits of hugelkultur, for example). But I think in the long term, we'll need to move toward passive or human-powered methods as much as possible or we'll just keep losing carbon.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Ho you are so right!

How deep did he advocate this?

I have to tell the reason why I decided I might use a machine.... We tried to remove the big stones by hand, but even 2 men would not do it. So I would have to break them, not easy.
And my compost pile is absolutely huge, with big stuff.
So, remove the stone and put opuntia and more instead...
So this would be the 1 time doing, and then by hand.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Here's what Bill says in the Designers Manual:

"When we mulch in deserts we need to emulate the ant and the termite, who bury their organic materials out of the sun. Wherever possible, we should also place a layer of stone, sand, or soil over our desert mulches, or create hollows where trapped leaves will be later covered with sand."

The picture shows a covering of stone one stone thick on top of the deeply mulched bed.
 
Eric Toensmeier
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Afraid I don't have a lot to offer here is I haven't worked a lot in dry climates. The suggestions around burying, mulching, and biochar seem promising. Some Carmen is lost as they dry but some is also lost when would decompose is in the soil. I don't have a good understanding of the best way to conserve that material. Whatever the practices are in your region that end up building organic matter in the soil most effectively would be the ones to look at. Good luck and let us know what you learn!
 
Xisca Nicolas
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I thought that the sun was what removed some solid matter, turning it back into gaz...
Then the idea that burrying is better than mulching....

also, here some insects (not termites) are munching at my wood!

I also have difficulties in understanding that people used to burn, as carbon is realeased in the air more than in any other process.

My only logical conclusion is that we have to refine the methods for keeping carbon because of some urgency.
That's it?
When there is no urgency and lots of carbon, then of course a fire is an easy low cost and low technology method....
 
Tyler Ludens
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:

I also have difficulties in understanding that people used to burn, as carbon is realeased in the air more than in any other process.


People in my region still burn huge piles of trees - each pile easily large enough to heat our house and cook food for a year. They burn the piles because they look "messy" and because that's what people have always done here. Even though now "brush piles" are a wildlife management practice if one has wildlife management tax status on their land. I keep spamming permies.com with Texas Wildlife Management because I worry that people just don't know about it. It fits in perfectly with permaculture and carbon farming. http://tpwd.texas.gov/landwater/land/private/agricultural_land/
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Thanks for spamming some more Tyler!

Yes here too, the problem is "messy", and also risk of a big fire in summer.
But other ways use fossile carbon to deal with the mess! Like reducing it into little pieces for mulch etc.
And how to burry a large quantity by hand?
Tending the wild mention burning as THE ancient method of the original people of California.

I think each method should be at least scaled for efficiency (not measured but at least compared)
 
Tyler Ludens
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:
Tending the wild mention burning as THE ancient method of the original people of California.


This might work ok for small numbers of people is specific regions, but there's evidence that burning by aboriginal peoples may have damaged much of Australia. I think we need to be very wary of assuming that just because a practice is traditional it is therefore a good idea.

Regarding brush piles and fire danger - apparently, low brush piles are much less of a fire risk than standing dead trees, because the piles hold moisture. The smaller the pieces the better, and low dense piles can serve as erosion control structures.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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It seemed to have worked well in California at least!
They did not burn every year, they maintained grass land for animals, and prevented big fires etc.

Traditional does not mean blindly good but low technicity: at least you do not need machines nor fossile energy.
I agree that we are too many for most traditional systems...

Also a dead tree is high, and flames go up.
Here, no pile can be wet.
Well, if I do nothing, only grubs do the job eating the wood.
I have noisy wood!

 
S Bengi
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The best place to keep carbon is in a living tree (root or branch).
After living tree died (natural or man-made). Some of the aromatic hydrocarbon (smell of mint, etc) is vaporized and lost.
Some hydrocarbon (nut/seed oil) turns rancid and decomposes releasing into the air.
When you bury it or in moist enviroment, the simple sugar dissolves in water and gets eaten up by yeast/soil microbe and is turn into CO2, in a few minutes.
More complex carbohydrates might take a bit longer but even huglekulture made with 1ft diameter logs gets completely eaten by yeast/fungi/termite and other soil microbes in 3yrs maybe 10 if it is made from some super dense wood.

Maybe 1/2% of the carbon says locked up mid-term as humus.
80% of the carbon that is in the soil is in living tree roots and living fungi. Unless we are counting the carbon in limestone and crude oil.
 
Scott Strough
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S Bengi wrote:
Maybe 1/2% of the carbon stays locked up mid-term as humus.
80% of the carbon that is in the soil is in living tree roots and living fungi. Unless we are counting the carbon in limestone and crude oil.


In my opinion your numbers are right, but limited to certain, not all, forest soils. Mollic soils are very different.

Here is a good chart from the USDA-NRCS
Soil Carbon Chart

Keep in mind stabilized Carbon (humus) can last into deep geological time (1000s of years) if left undisturbed. It's the top mulch layer of carbon, O-horizon, (also sometimes called humus, but a different sort) that is at best mid to short term as well as what is called the active fraction that is undergoing decomposition.

 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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