You’ve heard of wheat, corn, and soybean farming. But what about carbon farming? A new concept, carbon farming is rooted in the idea that rangeland can be managed to move heat-trapping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and into the soil.

Jeff Creque of the Carbon Cycle Institute in California was part of a team that demonstrated how applying a layer of compost improves rangeland soil quality and increases plant growth.

Creque: “And it’s that increased plant growth then that is capturing additional carbon.”

The practice can increase plant growth on grazed grasslands by up to 70 percent, so Creque says there is interest from ranchers. But the up-front cost of the compost is often the stumbling block.

That may soon change as ranchers gain access to revenue from California’s carbon market – a system that allows carbon-capturing projects to be funded by companies that want to offset their own emissions.

The American Carbon Registry, for example, recently established rules that would allow farmers to get carbon credits for adding compost to grazed grasslands – something that could make the practice more profitable in the short-term, and encourage ranchers to become part of the climate solution.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Chart source: website
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More Resources
Pioneering Standards Support Ranchers While Reducing Greenhouse Gases
A Sprinkle of Compost Helps Rangeland Lock Up Carbon
The Grass Really Is Greener: Storing Carbon in Rangeland Soils
Profiting from the sale of carbon offsets: a case study of the Trigg Ranch
Marin Carbon Project

John Wihbey

John Wihbey, a writer, educator, and researcher, is an assistant professor of journalism at Northeastern University and a correspondent for Boston Globe Ideas. Previously, he was an assistant director...