Remonitoring in California

This winter's remonitoring of California baseline carbon plots established in January-February 2011 showed most with little change, or slight losses. The highest gain was from a plot near Watsonville managed with holistic planned grazing by Joe Morris of TO Cattle Company ( which showed significant increases in all three layers sampled, with results viewable on the map of soil carbon change:

The Soil Carbon Challenge, and its subset the California Grassland Challenge, are ongoing programs that monitor soil carbon change over 4-10 year spans. Through this monitoring we seek to recognize possibility and to discover effective examples and strategies for turning atmospheric carbon into water-holding, fertility-enhancing soil carbon.

Soil carbon, while only a few percent by volume or weight of soil, is responsible for a good deal of the soil's structure and function -- absorbing and holding water, carbon, and supporting the biological diversity of soils. California's historic drought has made growing carbon-rich soil organic matter and humus a difficult and unlikely proposition for most managers of grasslands.

Joe said "I've tried to manage the animals and the plants in a way that takes into account the needs of both. Both need food, water, rest. One moves, the other doesn't. So I move the animals in a way that their migration patterns accommodate both their needs, and the needs of the plant. I've tried to do it in a way that meets the needs of cowboys, too."

"Tom Dorrance used to say, You've got to observe, and you've got to remember. The monitoring helps us do those things."

Congratulations Joe and crew!