At the US Highbush Blueberry Council’s (USHBC) Innovate 2021 Conference, Markus Kleber, professor of soil system science at Oregon State University, hosted a “Carbon Sequestration Lunch.” The session provided an overview of carbon sequestration and detailed the potential benefits to blueberry growers and farmers everywhere. Kleber explained that, as carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere increases, CO2 molecules absorb part of the energy from solar radiation, causing more warming in the atmosphere. This, of course, could have significant impacts on blueberry production across the globe. Despite improvements in reducing emissions, there is still a 0.6% annual increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally.
“Humans are intervening in the carbon cycle, and industrial agriculture has driven down the carbon in the soil,” Kleber shared. “When you lose half your soil carbon, you’re bound to see reductions in plant productivity…When we talk about carbon sequestration we are referring to the transfer and storage of atmospheric carbon to other pools, such as soil or plant biomass.”
Best management practices can restore at least some of this carbon, and soil carbon sequestration can be a significant GHG removal practice. Despite various challenges, there’s strong public interest in finding carbon sequestration solutions. Growers should recognize and take advantage of this interest, both through marketing and farming practices. Increasing soil carbon can be beneficial for overall soil health.
As part of the 2021-25 strategic plan, USHBC will review global sustainability considerations of relevance to the entire blueberry supply chain and develop an overall approach for how to build these considerations into USHBC’s programs and industry practices.
Click here to view a replay of the Carbon Sequestration Lunch.