watervole: (Default)
Judith Proctor ([personal profile] watervole) wrote2017-02-05 04:37 pm

Carbon Farming

Thanks to Ranunculus for telling me about this.

(apologies for the random font and size changes.  It happens when I cut and paste bits and I can't work out how to make it all the same)

Carbon farming looks like a really interesting set of techniques.

in a nutshell - Carbon Farming involves implementing practices that are known to improve the rate at which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and converted to plant material and/or soil organic matter.

One of the basic techniques is to spread compost on low-fertility rangeland. the compost encourages grass growth, the grass increases the amount of organic matter in the soil, which takes carbon from the atmosphere and adds it to the soil.
With more organic matter, the moisture holding capacity of the soil increases, and this encourages more plants to grows, etc.

There are lots more techniques - 'no dig' is very important as ploughing causes a lot of carbon to be lost from the soil. Seed drills are part of the solution.  Other things include techniques to reduce erosion, so planting wind breaks, encouraging vegetation on river banks, wetland restoration, etc.  

If you live in the USA
 and want to donate to the Carbon Project (which is actively researching these techniques), then donations are (currently) exempt from Federal tax.  (In other word, if you want to help some genuine science which has the potential to lock up carbon and improve soil quality at the same time, do it quickly before the president decides to try and stop it)

I just tried to send them some money, but I'm having problems with Avast Passwords and I'm not recovered well enough from the asthama to have the mental energy to struggle finding my Paypal password.  (I can remember my Avast master password, but  Avast is causing other screw ups...)

There's also a partner project called Fibreshed that aims to produce carbon neutral yarn.

Fascinating stuff all round and a rare glimmer of hope on the environmental front.
ranunculus: (Default)

[personal profile] ranunculus 2017-02-06 05:34 am (UTC)(link)
I don't know if you saw this video. It has miserable sound quality, but the information in it, especially the first half is really amazing.
ranunculus: (Default)

[personal profile] ranunculus 2017-02-08 07:35 pm (UTC)(link)
Carbon cost of the compost for that project was high due to the test nature of the program. It kind of depends on what resources the land can contribute.... I'm going to spread compost from the horse manure. It isn't very balanced nutritionally however it is free, except for the cost of spreading it. Its carbon cost is not low, since I get my hay from some distance away, however it is the second use of that hay!

Water is SO important in California. Our grass growing season here is pretty short, on my Ranch it is usually from November to May. We have poor growth between Nov and the end of Feb because it is too cold and the days are too short. So our real growing time is March, April and part of May after which it is too dry especially for shallow rooted annuals. It doesn't take much extra moisture in May to give us a lot of benefit!! Perennial bunch grass does extend our season a tiny bit since its roots go so deep and can access water longer.

I've looked at a number of videos around this in the last week. The mechanism for sequestering carbon is the die off of the roots of plants. When grasses get grazed part of their roots die off, since they aren't needed to support the bunch of grass. THAT action sequesters the carbon. Then the grass grows again and, once it gains a bit of strength it gets grazed again so rinse and repeat. Shallow rooted annual plants only get the carbon down a very short way where it is vulnerable to being disturbed and released back into the atmosphere THAT is why the concept of deep rooted perennials is so key.