Carbon Farming

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Agriculture has significant potential to help reverse climate change through practices that pull carbon from the atmosphere and store it in soils and plants, called carbon sequestration.  Currently, as much as one third of the surplus carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere driving climate change has resulted from land management practices on agricultural lands.

Carbon farming is an array of strategies designed to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases while enhancing farms’ and ranches’ productivity and resilience.  While most modern agriculture tends to lose carbon from the farm system, carbon farming aims to increase carbon stored on farms and ranches in soil organic matter, perennial plant roots, and standing woody biomass.

Carbon Farm Planning is the first step.  Based on the conservation planning approach of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Carbon Farm Planning uses carbon as its organizing principle to identify practices that enable agricultural operations to increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These practices can directly benefit farms and ranches through improved soil health, water holding capacity, crop and forage production, and resilience to climate change. They can benefit the environment by reducing demands on local water sources and enhancing wildlife and pollinator habitat.

Carbon Farm Planning begins with an overall inventory of natural resource conditions on the farm or ranch and identifies opportunities to enhance the capture of carbon from the atmosphere by plants and soils.  It considers the unique production and conservation goals for each farm or ranch, including economic considerations, and provides a customized plan that aims to help farmers and ranchers make their lands and their businesses more productive and resilient.  Carbon Farm Plans can be developed for natural and working lands including: rangelands, forests, croplands and orchards.

For more information about Carbon Farm Plans, visit:

Partners:

  • TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation
  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Carbon Cycle Institute

Funders:

  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation

RCD Contact: Adria Arko