Thursday 5 July 2012

Bacteria turn CO2 into soil improver

TG Daily reports how tiny microbes and a tropical tree can be used to lock up carbon dioxide - and turn it into an agricultural soil improver. University of Edinburgh scientists have discovered that when the Iroko tree is grown in dry, acidic soil and treated with a combination of natural fungus and bacteria, it produces a mineral in the soil around its roots.

It does this by combining calcium from the earth with CO2 from the atmosphere.   The bacteria then create the conditions under which the resulting mineral turns into limestone.

The process, which has already been used successfully in West Africa and is being tested in Bolivia, Haiti and India, locks carbon into the soil, keeping it out of the atmosphere, with the limestone deposited in the soil also benefiting agricultural production. "By taking advantage of this natural limestone-producing process, we have a low-tech, safe, readily-employed and easily maintained way to lock carbon out of the atmosphere, while enriching farming conditions in tropical countries," says Dr Bryne Ngwenya of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences.

Read more here.