Controversy of Carbon

Carbon. What a diverse topic and buzz word in our world today. It seems from the metropolises of the world to the rural corners of the world the word carbon has hit every ear on its way. What does carbon even mean? We should remind ourselves and since a lot of us rely on the internet for answers; If you were to google the meaning of carbon you will find this; “a nonmetallic chemical element with atomic number 6 that readily forms compounds with many other elements and is a constituent of organic compounds in all known living tissues (cc: Carbon Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster). This blog I want to take a step back and remember what carbon is. I would solely like to take this opportunity to talk about the carbon cycle. Since that is the carbon that in agriculture we do care about. The carbon cycle is the system of the exchange of elements and compounds for growing plants and harvesting crops. It is nature’s way of reusing carbon atoms. which travel from the atmosphere into organisms in the Earth and then back into the atmosphere over and over again. From the ground up carbon is in it all of the time. The amount of carbon in this cycle does not change, it is continuously recycled. First, the five processes of the carbon cycle relating to farming:

  1. Photosynthesis
  2. Respiration
  3. Excretion
  4. Decomposition
  5. Exchange            

In farming, we are familiar with these processes as we see their definitions happening every day that we are in the fields. The first process; Photosynthesis, the process of turning water, sunlight and oxygen into plant fuel by reusing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to feed plants. Respiration of crops is using sugars produced during photosynthesis to produce energy for the crop or in other words help the plant “breathe”. Excretion is the plants gaseous wastes that are removed from the plant through the stomata of the leaves. Now these first three processes are the basics of feeding the plants. The process of decomposition and how that fits into the carbon cycle is the decomposition of dead plant and animal material releasing carbon dioxide in to the atmosphere where it is available for plants to photosynthesis. This then turns to the exchange of carbon; that is in constant motion between carbon in the atmosphere and carbon in the soil constantly exchanging with each other. This cycle that is not always visible to us, is vital to our existence.

The carbon cycle is the steppingstones of what the conversations happening right now stem from. As the programs and credits roll out and carbon keeps being conversed about. I believe it is important to keep this cycle in mind and all that it does.