Farm News: As Its Topsoil Washes Away, The The Corn Belt Is Losing Yields—and Carbon

January 17, 2022

The midwestern Corn Belt produces 75% of all corn grown in the United States. Recently, scientists have found that soil in this region has lost around 35% of its most fertile topsoilElevated land areas have almost no topsoil left, and ground with lower elevation is prone to erosion from water flow. This has resulted in a 6% reduction in crop yields per year and estimated economic losses of about $2.8 billion per year.

When soil is lost, so is the carbon stored in the ground. More carbon is stored in soil than in all the world's plants and the atmosphere combined. Because of this, some plants are becoming smaller and more stunted than ever. Plus, farmlands with losses of topsoil require industrial fertilizers that come at a cost to both farmers and the environment.

Modern industrial agricultural practices are to blame for this. Tilling, for instance, compacts the soil and damages the microbial life important for capturing carbon and storing nutrients. When soil washes away, carbon is released into the atmosphere, worsening the climate crisis.

This is why we do what we do here at Local Roots!

Supporting farms whose regenerative practices take care of the soil does not deplete the land, nor does it hurt our planet.


Article by Local Roots contributor Jess Santoro // @jess_santoro

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