Glomalin and Conservation in Humboldt County The 1996 discovery of the soil glue glomalin is changing our understanding of the impact of elevated carbon dioxide, while giving important clues to forest health, watersheds, revegetation, wildfire and carbon sequestration. Here I share what I have found so others may read and draw their own conclusions, and relate it to my own experience, Humboldt County issues and stories from the news.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

224. Global warming 

The current focus on global warming in the last few months still overlooks the ability of soil fungi to act as powerful partners in reducing CO2. There is of course a need to reduce the amount we are putting into the atmosphere but solutions for taking it out aren't even to the science fiction stage yet. Meanwhile the beneficial effects of aerial Co2 fertilization continue to pile up at the CO2 Science site even as Al gore testifies in front of Congress. Major scientific discoveries are being ignored and their potential would have great benefits for the people.
Glomalin was discovered in 1996 by crop scientists working with corn. Work on forest trees in the PNW showed mycorhizzae to be critical to tree health, even survival. Many species of these symbiotic fungi may be found in seedlings. Dan Wheeler wrote:

While identification of mycorrhizae by root formation is still in its infancy,
data published on the Internet has found 7 fungal species colonizing _the same_
.5 cm rootlet! A typical seedling tree has hundreds of sites. A healthy,
100-year-old tree may have several million of those sites.

This was posted in the Agroforestry newsgroup several years ago and included here in #38 with the entire post. Each of these sites is receiving photosynthetic product from their host trees, up to 40% of annual output. Here we see the need for adult trees to work through their productive lifetimes, measured by output rather than mass of wood, and puts to rest the myth of planting seedlings being more productive than allowing trees to grow through late seral stages. Mattias Rillig of the University of Montana showed more glomalin deposited at the deeper levels in the soil in his 2005 DOE study also showing the need for longer rotations if soil building and watershed restoration are going to be considered as an antidote to global warming.
I have seen no real news on any of these topics in a while. On group is going off about glomalin, but claiming charcoal is needed in the soil for the fungi to. This may be true of decomposers, which may be a large percentage of soil fungi in worked lands, but living forests suppress many of these and the carbon comes from photosynthesis, removing CO2 from the atmosphere. There is huge potential here for plant developers of many kinds and an obvious need to reduce harmful practices from emissions to mowing. Increased CO2 can improve nutritional value of crops. No till farming is helping sequester tons of CO2 to farmers economic benefit. An interesting post by Dan said:

In tree nurseries seedlings typically become inoculated with
Hebelomacrustuliniformis. However, according to work done in New Zealand, this
fungusis insufficient to grow trees rapidly. Until it is replaced, Douglas
firseldom grows more than a few inches a year.In 1986-89 I did several
inoculation experiments at a Douglas fir Christmastree farm near Oregon City,
Clackamas County, Oregon. One of the first inoculations was with Rhizopogon
vinicolor, R. parksii, R. villosullus, andR. villescens, Suillus sps, Laccaria
laccata, Laccariaamethystina-occidentalis, Boletus zelleri, Boletus
chrysenteron, and othermycorrhizal fungi. Within 2 years of this multiple
inoculation, most of thetrees were growing 3-8 feet per year! And where a
13-foot Douglas firChristmas tree was removed in Nov., 1990 and replaced by a
22-inch tall4-year-old Douglas fir seedling (where Tuber gibbosum (Oregon White
truffle)was known to be fruiting) that seedling grew between February and
October of1991 at least 9.5 feet. That nearly allowed the tree to reach the
height ofnearby trees. The following year it grew an additional 6 feet, and is
now(1998) nearly equal to its 40-60 foot tall neighbors.Makes you kind of wonder
how much tree cultivation is actually done, doesn't it?
Deja News, Google Redwood Reader #39
With vast new acreages becoming suitable for forest trees in the north and in the mountains we are actually seeing how nature regulates the fluctuations throughout time. It has always been our way to to try to improve on natures work to our benefit. It is time we partnered with nature to tackle this problem before it becomes a geopolitical firestorm.

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