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California pays farmers to sustainably sequester carbon in soil

Carbon sequestration

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(NaturalNews) The solution to widespread environmental destruction and perceived man-made climate change isn't to arbitrarily restrict humans from using the world's natural resources, but rather to alter the way humans use them. And a new program in California is doing just that by rewarding farmers who adopt clean, sustainable, organic farming and rotational grazing practices that have been scientifically shown to not only sequester carbon dioxide in the ground but also naturally enrich soils.

Known as "carbon farming," the program involves setting aside special plots of land that are carefully restored to their natural grassland state and grazed, a process further delineated in the film Carbon Nation. Research published early last year by the University of California-Berkeley (UCB) found that restoring natural grasslands and grazing them with ruminant animals can effectively trap large amounts of excess carbon that otherwise floats around in the atmosphere.

But that research never would have happened if it weren't for John Wick, a California rancher and partner at the Marin Carbon Project who convinced UCB researchers back in 2007 to investigate the concept further. Using Wick's own land for their experiments, the researchers determined that the process not only works but continues to trap increasingly more carbon in soils year after year.

"Organic amendments, particularly compost, can enhance biomass and sequester carbon on grasslands while reducing emissions from the waste sector," explains the report, adding that the use of compost in the restoration of just 5 percent of California's natural grasslands is capable of storing up to a year's worth of carbon emissions released by conventional farms and forestry operations.

The full UCB report is available here:

Organic farms reverse damage caused by conventional agro-rape operations

Effectively reversing the damage caused by conventional factory farms, or what some might call "agro-rape" operations, carbon farming represents a commonsense approach to healing the environmental ills brought about by the industrial revolution. As we've repeatedly warned our readers, chemical agriculture and confined animal feeding operations, a staple in modern American agriculture, destroy the health of soils, preventing them from naturally sequestering carbon as they otherwise would.

Carbon farming, in other words, is really just traditional farming -- it's the way our ancestors grew and raised clean food while caring for and being good stewards of the land within their charge. Modern growing methods, on the other hand, which rely on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), chemical fertilizers, pesticides and large-scale monoculture systems, are directly responsible for creating the mess in which we now find ourselves.

Thankfully, the damage isn't necessarily permanent, and programs like the carbon farming initiative in California are gaining national and even global attention as nations look for new ways to conserve arable land while still using it for human benefit. Strict guidelines ensure that the land is cared for properly to ensure maximum carbon sequestration, and farmers are rewarded with tradable carbon credits that can earn them monetary compensation in exchange for being good stewards of their land.

"Under the program, ranchers voluntarily set aside grassland in a permanent conservation easement that allows them to grow hay and graze animals, but forbids tilling or conversion to other uses," explains Sustainable Business about how carbon farming works. "Carbon in the soil is measured and formally registered, and then made available to entities that want to purchase carbon credits."

In Australia, similar programs have been implemented to reduce fertilizer use and restore natural habitats, providing similar entry for carbon to be sequestered in soils. The World Bank has also implemented a "BioCarbon Fund" in Africa that rewards farmers for improving soil health.






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