The carbon cycle is a critical natural process that moves carbon through Earth’s atmosphere, biosphere, pedosphere, lithosphere and oceans. Human activity has tipped the balance of the cycle through extracting enormous quantities of deeply sequestered fossil carbon as fossil fuels. These dense forms of carbon, when burned, release massive amounts of energy and carbon dioxide.

More carbon dioxide is now being released than the earth’s land-based plant life and oceans can naturally reabsorb. The excess carbon dioxide has formed a blanket in our atmosphere—trapping the sun’s heat and changing our climate, as seen in shifts in our earth’s jet stream, ocean currents and air temperature. Rainfall patterns are changing and glaciers (water storage for many communities) are melting quickly.

Why is Carbon Farming important?

Carbon Farming has the potential to restore balance within the carbon cycle in a way that will ameliorate climate change, build resilience to drought and increase our agricultural productivity naturally.

Current international data from farming systems and pasture trials around the globe show that we could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices, which we term ‘regenerative organic agriculture.’ — Rodale Report

Carbon Farming in Action

Carbon Farming practices

Carbon Farming in the Northern California Fibershed: Examples, Models, and Tools

Carbon Farm Planning provides a customized guide for producers to maximize the capacity of their land to be healthy, productive and resilient while achieving quantifiable benefits toward greenhouse gas sequestration and climate change mitigation. What are some of the critical partnerships, funding opportunities and market-based incentives supporting and expanding this work in Northern California? In the webinar below hear how fiber producers at various scales are planning and implementing carbon farm practices on their land. Learn about models like Climate Beneficial Wool and resources including the Healthy Soils Program that are helping to establish a growing network of carbon farming practitioners on our landscape.

Presenters include Rebeccas Burgess, Executive Director, Fibershed; Heather Podoll, Policy Coordinator, Fibershed; Erin Walkenshaw, Carbon Farm Cohort Organizer, Fibershed; Amy Skezas, Meridian Farm; Jim Jensen, Jensen Ranch; Sarah Keiser, Wild Oat Hollow (slides linked)

Preliminary Carbon Farm Practice List

Below is a list of already approved soil carbon building practices. The majority of these practices were selected from the USDA-NRCS GHG Ranking Tool.

  • Alley Cropping
  • Anaerobic Digester
  • Compost Application Croplands/Grazed Rangelands (Quick Guide on Compost Application on Rangelands)
  • Conservation Crop Rotation
  • Contour Buffer Strips
  • Cover Crop (Quick Guide on Cover Crops)
  • Critical Area Planting
  • Cross Wind Trap Strips Conservation Cover
  • Filter Strip
  • Forage and Biomass Planting
  • Forest Stand Improvement
  • Forest Slash Treatment
  • Grassed Waterway
  • Herbaceous Wind Barriers
  • Hedgerow Planting (Quick Guide on Hedgerows)
  • Mulching
  • Multi-Story Cropping
  • No Till/Strip Till/Direct Seed
  • Nutrient Management
  • Prescribed Grazing
  • Range Planting
  • Residue and Tillage Management
  • Riparian Forest Buffer
  • Riparian Herbaceous Cover
  • Riparian Restoration
  • Silvopasture Establishment (Quick Guide on Silvopasture)
  • Tree/Shrub Establishment
  • Water Development
  • Wetland Restoration
  • Vegetative Barrier
  • Windbreak/Shelterbelt Establishment
  • Windbreak/Shelterbelt Renovation

Photos by Paige Green, Bryson Malone (thermometer) and Shutterstock (smokestacks)