Why forest microbiome inoculation with enhanced rock weathering?

The Carbon Community is a UK Charity dedicated to creating forests and accelerating carbon removal, with breakthrough science. 

Launched in May 2021, our study looks at the combined effects of forest microbiome inoculation and enhanced rock weathering, and their ability to accelerate and enhance forest carbon sequestration in conifer monoculture and mixed broadleaf forests. 

The project builds on recent studies which show that soil microbiome inoculation with native mycorrhizal fungi from established ecosystems can increase plant survival.  Basalt contains nutrients that stimulates mycorrhizal fungi and can support tree growth. Basalt addition has also been demonstrated, in arable crops, to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at a rate of 8-12 tCo2e. 

Objectives

Our aim is to accelerate and enhance the sequestration of carbon dioxide in trees and soil. The findings from the research will be shared as widely as possible to help tackle the climate crisis. Our community science programs enable people to personally contribute making the important connection between trees, science and people.

Our Approach

The study involves 25,600 trees planted in Carmarthenshire, Wales. There are 8 test cells plus a control, replicated 8 times.

Two Types of Forests & Control Mixed native broadleaf and Sitka Spruce. Grassland control for natural regeneration. In both types of forests, we are studying three treatments:

•    Basalt Addition - Crushed basalt, a mining by-product, was applied ahead of planting to                      increase soil nutrients and to enhance carbon sequestration.

•    Soil Microbiome Inoculation - The planting of the associated forest microbiome, integral to              how trees obtain soil resources and grow. Added at the time of planting.

•    Co-deployment of Basalt Addition and Soil Microbiome Inoculation - to examine                                combinatorial effects.

Principal Investigator

Dr Colin Averill, ETH Zürich Crowther Lab

Research team / project partners
Dr Colin Averill, ETH Zürich Crowther Lab
Professor David Beerling, Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation at the University of Sheffield
Professor Martin Bidartondo, Imperial College London & The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Dr Laura M. Suz, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Dr Bonnie Waring, The Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at Im-perial College London

Charles Nicholls, The Carbon Community
Heather Allen, The Carbon Community