Phytoplankton are Earth’s life raft!
Near the end of this Walde Sailing video they show a red substance in water.
This is commonly known as red tide. Red tide is likely an iron-rich phytoplankton bloom. When nitrogen and iron are added in combination from sediment run-off or pollution to waters then chlorophyll a concentrations can increase 40-fold leading to diatom proliferation, and reduced community diversity.
Nutient addition like this can also lead to coral bleaching and die off.
After blooming these organisms die and sink in the water column where microbes consume them and deplete the oxygen resulting in dead zones with little sea life. A dead zone the size of Scotland in the Gulf of Oman was recently discovered by robots exploring the Arabian sea, previously unknown because the area wasn’t safe for humans to do the sampling.
Still waters and a lack of mixing with air exacerbates these dead zones especially at lower depths.
Scientists also recently concluded that the last massive extinction event in earths history was the result of anoxia.
Oxygen is the byproduct of phytoplankton and they are responsible for the bulk of atmospheric oxygen when the cycle is regulated. We don’t want them dieing off in these explosive life raft blooms!
We can minimise anoxia in our oceans while still benefitting from phytoplankon oxygen production by reducing nutrient run-off in sediment from land with techniques like simple one-rock high filter dams seeded with plants to grow in the sediment and act as biofilters. This applies not only to our oceans but also inland waters, where even our water supply is at risk from sedimentation and a reduction in water volume in fresh water reserviors we get out drinking and irrigation waters from.
Here’s a Great Barrier Reef rock gulley success story.
Here are one-rock high filter dam pictures
Reading the comments on this one prompted me to comment…
Communities of saprotrophic (“rotten material” + “plant”) fungal hyphae (web) that break down wood chips and above ground plant litter tend to fruit mushrooms to spread their spores by air, mold uses explosive sacs to spread their spores into the air, whereas root-associated endo (internal to the root) or ecto (external) mycorrhizae (“fungus” + “root”) form symbiotic relationships with living plants and reproduce from spores in sacs on the hyphae (web) at the roots. Without plants to host them, mycorrhizae tend to die off. The different types are also often vertically separated in soils. So you want both types, and collecting above ground litter and below ground feeder roots can help spread the latter. Succession in forests has been shown to correlate with the interconnectedness of plants and so collecting fungal species that can interconnect plants at their roots or decompose material aboveground to feed them will aid succession. When a tree falls and is left to decompose it creates a food pathway for fungal hyphae to create super highways connecting plants. We can replicate this by leaving intact trunks or branches in contact with soil between plants. One of the highest minerals in trees is potassium, and potassium increases the colonisation of plant roots by mycorrhizae.
The white strings aka hyphae (webs) often seen in wood chips and compost can also be formed by bacteria such as Actinomycetes.
There have also been studies showing that most products claiming to contant inoculants that have mycorrhizal spores, don’t.
Accelerated decomposition of plant matter with fungi and endohypal bacteria? The dish on the right contains a fungi shown in the middle dish, but with an endohyphal bacteria living inside it.
Simple mixing of bacteria and fungi in solution to form these relationships?
Interesting talk. Regarding too many trees, I saw this today in my news: Billions of gallons of water saved by thinning forests | NSF
I will reserve my judgement on until I can find the paper they refer to. 🙂
I have read previously that during drought water stressed trees exhale more carbon than they consume. I recently read that _any_ amount of selective logging harms freshwater fish diversity, and I assume the same with large fires and extra water run-off. The carbon from fires is also washed down hill and collects in troughs and the land becomes nitrogen and phosphorous deficient.
On soil carbon; the highest natural soil organic carbon recorded that I know about so far is in a protected bay in Sweden growing sea grass. When the grass dies it gets buried in the anaerobic sediment and stays there a long time aided by the bay being well protected from nutrients being washed out to sea.
Roots sequester on average five times more carbon than aboveground biomass litter.
From other research I’ve read, plants with long, thin, and deep roots sequester the most soil carbon over the whole soil profile. And the deeper the roots go, the longer the carbon is sequested and the more energy is required by microbes to utilize it. Ultimately the dissolved organic matter may be washed out of soil profile and end up in rivers and the ocean where it is consumed by bioluminescent cyanobacteria, apparently these are the most abundant carbon fixers of the ocean, and the carbon eventually ends up in sea monsters.
A 600 farm Victorian soil carbon study found rainfall was by far the biggest factor for soil carbon, something like 80%, followed by soil bulk density and pH, all pretty much irrespective of land management practice. So anything to improve those especially in compacted surfaces will help. I’ve seen one study show compost teas improve soil bulk density and water infiltration, but so do water treatment practices like Puricare that oxidize bore water prior to irrigation. Another Victorian study showed subsurface manuring with a C:N below 25:1 was most effective in reducing bulk density and improving pH so long as there was enough soil moisture for the microbes to break the material down. A preliminary microbiome subsoil manuring study found it’s the nutrient ratios that matter, not whether they’re organic or inorganic, and that most microbes are in the soil, they just need the right mix to begin cycling it.
There’s data showing bacterial and fungal abundance increase linearly up to at least 4% soil organic carbon, with fungal diversity tapering off at 3%. Microbial diversity has also been shown to determine nutrient cycling and soil testing with Solvita CO2 test can determine respiration.
The SoilKee Renovator has been shown to increase nutrient cycling through oxidation and increased dissolved organic matter at the initial expense of soil carbon by bringing strips of pasture roots and soil to the surface.
Small predators like arthropods are also important for soil carbon sequestration, however Regenerative Farming has become a real buzzword for larger animal management practices. Most studies I’ve read show they are only appropriate in context with appropriate rainfall, soil moisture and existing soil carbon. David Johnson has shown that about 3% soil organic matter is needed before plants put more carbon into the soil than they take out, and that optimum plant productivity happens at a fungal to bacterial ratio of about 3:1. This is because fungi and plants and higher carbon life forms being eukaryotes require more carbon to build their cells as opposed to prokaryotic bacteria.