ScienceDaily (Jan. 29, 2012) — The earth beneath our feet plays an important role in carbon storage – a key factor in climate change – and new research published in Nature Climate Change this week shows that in times of drought some types of soil perform better than others.

Research led by Dr Franciska de Vries of Lancaster University, showed that in drought conditions soil under agricultural grasslands was able to continue doing its job of containing carbon rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. Soil under intensively managed wheat fields, however was not so efficient.

The grasslands in the study also retained their nutrients better under drought conditions, when compared with wheat fields. The grassland soils did their job better because the soil biota in them consisted mainly of fungi, and the small animals which eat fungi, whereas in the wheat field they were mainly bacteria and bacterial-eating animals. Less fungi died because of the drought, so they could continue performing their functions. [Read More]