The Wrong Trousers

Last year Steve Rayner and Gwyn Prins wrote a fine paper on climate change policy. Though the authors do not show awareness of the soil carbon opportunity, or of biological factors in the carbon cycle in general, the 41-page paper is a splendid takedown of the top-down carbon market approaches exemplified by the Kyoto protocol, and projects a framework into which the soil carbon opportunity fits nicely.

Christine Jones presents at Queensland Landcare Conference

Dr Christine Jones keynote presentation at the 2008 Queensland Landcare Conference, "Sustainability by Design", September 22, 2008, at Monto, Queensland, Australia. For more video visit www.qldlandcareconference.com. Camera by Beryl and Cec Bleys, Monto History Centre. Video and Web Production by eco2oh and THINKeEXTENSION.

Christine Jones has spent 20 years working on the soil carbon opportunity. She is the founder of ASCAS, the Australian Soil Carbon Accreditation Scheme.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Rodale Institute on the soil carbon opportunity

The Rodale Institute has recently come out with a policy document titled "Regenerative Organic Farming: A Solution to Global Warming."

"Successful implementation of regenerative organic farming practices on a national basis will depend on two factors: a strong bottom-up demand for change, and a top-down shift in state and national policy to support farmers in this transition."

Download the report from http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/20080425/gw6

Methane: ruminant livestock a minor player in atmospheric levels

Methane is an important greenhouse gas that contributes to global heating. But methane emissions from ruminant digestion play a minor part in atmospheric methane levels, according to a recent article published on the website of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Animal Production and Health branch.

From the oil age to the soil age

A recent PowerPoint presentation by Abe Collins, attached below this article, outlines the soil carbon opportunity, the role of carbon farming, and policy directions to realize the opportunity. Right click and choose "Save link (or target) as" to download it.

James Lovelock on the separation of biological and physical science

Lecture to the Royal Society in October 2007 by James Lovelock. "Climate change on a living earth," 65 minutes. Lovelock eloquently depicts the fragmentation of scientific understanding, which makes us unable to grasp global heating or to counter it. "In our hubris, we believe that we can be stewards of the earth long before we understand it."

Garnaut stresses importance of measurement

Says Prof. Ross Garnaut in Australia, who heads an independent commission on climate change commissioned by Australia's Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments:

What grass farmers have known all along—research shows grass sequesters carbon

By Martha Holdridge, West Wind Farm

Editor's note: This article is reproduced with permission from the Summer 2008 Grassfed Gazette, published by the American Grassfed Association.

American Grassfed Association member Martha Holdridge, owner of West Wind Farm, used soil samples to determine that her West Virginia farm sequestered 15 tons of CO2 per acre over the past four years (photo by Kenny Kemp, Charleston WV Gazette).

From 1987 to 2007, at West Wind Farm, we regularly sent soil samples from our pastures to the West Virginia University (WVU) testing lab--in some years requesting organic matter tests. In those same years, there has been increasing public alarm about greenhouse gasses and global warming. In the fall of 2007, Dr. Ed Rayburn, extension forage agronomist at WVU, reminded me that an increase of organic matter in the soil means that carbon dioxide (CO2) is being drawn from the air into the soil. He kindly agreed to calculate the rate of carbon sequestration in the pastures of West Wind Farm.

Our average organic matter in 2002 was 4.1 percent, in 2004 it was 7.0 percent, and in 2007 it was 8.3 percent. According to Rayburn’s calculations based on a 2-inch deep sample, over five years (2002-2007) we had sequestered 15 tons of CO2 per acre or four tons of carbon per acre.

Measuring or estimating soil carbon

How do you measure or estimate soil carbon?

Here are some handbooks

1. Peter Donovan. Measuring soil carbon change: a flexible, practical, local method. 2010. A basic guide for do-it-yourselfers and the method for the Soil Carbon Challenge. Includes planning worksheet and plot data sheets.

2. Pearson, Timothy, Sarah Walker, and Sandra Brown. 2006. Sourcebook for Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry Projects. Winrock International.
http://www.winrock.org/ecosystems/files/Winrock-BioCarbon_Fund_Sourceboo... (661 K pdf file; right click and "save link as" to download)

Winrock also has a sampling cost calculator available from
http://www.winrock.org/ecosystems/tools.asp

3. Stolbovoy, V., Montanarella, L., Filippi, N., Jones, A., Gallego, J., and Grassi, G. 2007. Soil sampling protocol to certify the changes of organic carbon stock in mineral soil of the European Union. Version 2. European Commission, Joint Research Centre. ISBN 978-92-79-05379-5
http://eusoils.jrc.ec.europa.eu/esdb_archive/eusoils_docs/other/EUR21576...

summary poster:
http://eusoils.jrc.it/ESDB_Archive/eusoils_docs/Poster/Soil_Sampling.pdf

4. McKenzie, N., Ryan, P., Fogarty, P., and Wood, J. 2000. Sampling, measurement, and analytical protocols for carbon estimation in soil, litter, and coarse woody debris. Australian Greenhouse Office, Technical Report 14.
http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/ncas/reports/tr14final.html

5. Harnessing Farms and Forests in the Low Carbon Economy: How to create, measure, and verify greenhouse gas offsets edited by Zach Willey and Bill Chameides, Duke University Press, 2007.

Carbon farming in Marin County, California

An article from ODE magazine about soil carbon research and trials in Marin County, California.

". . . John Wick--who owns this ranch in the hills of Marin County north of San Francisco with Peggy Rathmann, author of the classic picture book Goodnight Gorilla--goes on to outline the climate crisis in terms all-too-familiar to anyone paying attention to the issue. But he then offers a solution that would astonish most people, especially green activists: 'Eat a local grass-fed burger.'"

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