The Scoop on Carbon Farming

Amazing things are happening in the world of carbon sequestration. And July Fourth Friday attendees did plenty of their own knowledge sequestration while glued to their seats for John Wicks’ jam-packed talk on carbon Farming. A Marin rancher and preservationist, John co-founded the Marin Carbon Project and is a passionate evangelist for their work.

marin carbon banner

The Marin Carbon Project is noteworthy in the scope of the questions participants are exploring, the rigor of the science involved, and the effective mix of theory, field testing, and implementation. Click here for a list of some papers published by the Marin Carbon Project research teams.

Here’s a smattering of observations from John’s talk.

  • Healthy rangelands require grazing animals. The rangeland ecosystem degrades if the land is not grazed.
  • All plants sequester carbon. The question is, for how long? Some sequestered carbon is returned almost immediately to the atmosphere and some is stored up to a decade or so. But if the carbon becomes mineralized and attached to clay particles, the storage becomes effectively permanent.
  • Holistic management techniques, which involve intensive grazing of animals in a small area for short periods, are effective for promoting deeper rooted perennial grasses (vs. annual grasses), but are not effective for intermediate and long term carbon sequestration and can actually increase the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.
  • Perhaps the most remarkable observation of the talk is the finding that a single application of as little as 1/4-inch of compost can promote intermediate and long term carbon sequestration for years following the single application.
  • John spoke of many other aspects of the Marin Carbon Project work, including soil microbiology, research on composting of manures (including human waste), other sources of compostable materials, and even the efforts to lobby the California legislature and governor to support research and implementation of effective carbon sequestration techniques.
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