The Role of Allophane in Carbon Sequestration: New Zealand's Volcanic Soils Uncovered by Soil Scientist Dr Gordon Rajendram

Monday 27 May 2024, 10:01AM

By Media PA


Volcanic soils, rich in unique minerals such as allophane, play a pivotal role in New Zealand's agricultural success and environmental sustainability. Dr. Gordon Rajendram, a leading soil scientist, explains that allophane, an amorphous mineral found predominantly in the volcanic ash soils of regions like Waikato and Taranaki, significantly enhances carbon sequestration capabilities, which is crucial in the fight against climate change.

Carbon sequestration in soils is a natural way of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it in a solid form. In New Zealand, volcanic soils have demonstrated a remarkable ability to store carbon, with carbon levels reaching 10-12% in some areas. This high organic content not only bolsters soil fertility but also contributes to a healthier microbial environment, which is essential for sustainable agricultural practices.

"Allophane's structure allows these soils to lock in carbon effectively, making them less prone to the typical losses seen in other soil types," Dr. Rajendram notes. "This characteristic is vitally important for maintaining soil health and long-term agricultural productivity."

Moreover, the presence of allophane influences the physical properties of soil, such as texture and water retention, which are beneficial for plant growth. Its ability to bind with organic matter reduces the rate at which carbon decomposes, thereby keeping it stored in the soil for longer periods. This process not only improves the soil's structure but also its resistance to erosion and degradation.

Dr. Rajendram underscores that understanding the interaction between allophane and organic carbon offers significant insights into sustainable land management practices. By promoting the health of volcanic soils, New Zealand can continue to lead in sustainable agriculture, leveraging its unique geological assets to benefit both the environment and farming communities. The ongoing research and management strategies aimed at enhancing carbon sequestration in these soils not only address global environmental concerns but also support the agricultural sector crucial to New Zealand's economy.

Contact Dr Gordon Rajendram

021 466077

Contact Phillip Quay

027 458 7724