Why Soil Carbon Coalition? The most powerful and creative planetary force.

The Soil Carbon Coalition is a nonprofit organization working to advance the practice, and spread awareness of the opportunity, of turning atmospheric carbon into water-holding, fertility-enhancing soil organic matter and humus. We are doing this by identifying the successes of local leadership via time-series monitoring, with open data. We want to help facilitate a shared and shareable intelligence on landscape function, so that communities can take informed responsibility for soil health and the function of their watersheds.

As Vernadsky realized about 100 years ago, life (powered by photosynthesis and carbon cycling) is the most potent geologic force. Carbon cycling (which heavily influences water cycling) underlies almost all of our biggest challenges. Many now realize that humans have become a principal influence on carbon and water cycling, but our influence has been largely inadvertent, and often (e.g. changes in soil carbon in specific places) outside our awareness.

Our challenge, our opportunity, is to learn how to manage carbon and water cycling (landscape function or biological work) for the good of the whole at a variety of scales. But many of our methods, tools, and systems for learning are not

Presentation to UN on World Soil Day

Our new board chair (president) of the Soil Carbon Coalition, Didi Pershouse, recently gave a short presentation to the United Nations on World Soil Day.

Didi's presentation starts about 50 minutes in, and answers a question from the ambassador from Lesotho about corporate influences in agriculture towards the end.

California update: November 2017 with Sequoia Riverlands Trust

The Soil Carbon Coalition, with Peter Donovan and Didi Pershouse, completed a working residency with Sequoia Riverlands Trust (SRT) in October-November 2017. The purpose:

U.S. crop insurance

Losses covered by federally subsidized U.S. crop insurance have declined substantially in the last three years. See table, and maps of indemnities by county:

Crop insurance indemnities, 2014 crop year

Crop insurance indemnities, 2015 crop year

Crop insurance indemnities, 2016 crop year

Total crop insurance indemnities, 2014-2016 crop years

Soil, water, and hope


THURSDAY, APRIL 13 - 7 PM - Presentation /Discussion

October 2016 update

by Didi Pershouse


  Learning resources and school residencies
  AtlasBioWork, a flexible app for monitoring data
  What we learned

It has been a rich and productive year with the Soil Carbon Coalition.

Our Soil Carbon Challenge continues, with new plots added and baseline plots being re-monitored across North America, and we continue to seek local partners—land managers, watershed groups, conservation districts, and schools—in monitoring soil carbon and other indicators of landscape function. Research facilities can’t possibly keep up with the huge swell of innovation that land managers are trying, nor can current research methods capture the complex (positive or negative) impact of every change we make in our dance with photosynthesis, soil microbiology, and the carbon, water and nutrient cycles. Why not, instead, view the whole landscape as a potential learning opportunity, and engage everyone as participants in the inquiry and creative process?

Peter has our data-collection and mapping app ( up and running, and has begun testing it. This is a major advance in ease of reporting (in the field and at the desk) and will enable wider participation in repeatable data and monitoring. He will do a free introductory webinar on Wednesday, October 19, 2016 at 11 am Pacific time (2 pm Eastern). Use this link to register.

I have developed over 70 pages of activities, curriculum, and fieldwork instructions to engage students and community members that will soon be formatted so that they can be shared widely in online and print versions, and I have tested these materials and activities with students from Vermont, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, and Chicago as a basis for developing larger projects in other states. Most exciting for me is that I have been asked to develop a soil-health curriculum (building on materials I’ve been testing) for career-tech FFA agricultural programs at over 350 public high schools in Oklahoma.

We both have done outreach through conferences, teacher trainings, and social media. Public support for—and engagement with—our projects is growing. Students, teachers, farmers and community members are now learning about the power of whole-systems land management and restoration; the microbiology and physics of soil aggregates; principles of soil health; soil’s role in climate resilience and carbon, water, and nutrient cycling; and hands-on monitoring skills for tracking long-term changes in land function.

Students testing water infiltration outside a public high school in Chicago

As we travel the country and visit schools and farms in different regions, we are reminded that context is everything, and that intelligence is everywhere. Goals are different, landscapes and weather change, and farming and educational cultures are unique. Wherever we go, we learn, and we get to witness people learning and changing. Because of our travels we often get to cross-pollinate between regions, and witness and respond to both local contexts. We know we are blessed to have this opportunity, and we take it seriously. We are committed to being a responsive organization.

Our goal is to raise $150,000 this year, and we could use your help. We currently have an offer for a $4,000 matching grant from the Vermont Community Foundation’s Sustainable Future Fund. Please consider making a tax deductible to the Soil Carbon Coalition (on the lower right hand menu of this website) or send a check to:

Soil Carbon Coalition
501 South Street
Enterprise, OR 97828

Rancher-to-rancher day at Sierra Foothill Conservancy near Prather, California

The Rancher-to-Rancher day at Table Mountain with Sierra Foothill Conservancy on March 19, 2016 was one of the best. Kent Reeves had arranged this with Billy Freeman, their cattle and grazing manager. We had great weather for an outdoor day, and the place was lush and beautiful with lots of grass and flowers.

atlasbiowork: a framework or scaffold for a shared intelligence or user interface on landscape function

Quickstart guide

You can log in to using your Google, Facebook, and Twitter identities, and we will not share your email or identities, but use them only for your login. If these logins don't work for you, we can supply you with a username and password on request. Contact Peter at

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Power, work, and energy

Power, work, and energy are not things -- we cannot see them directly, but only as actions or processes, by what happens as a result, such as how high a thrown stone gets before it begins to fall. But we can know them and even measure them.

Is it possible to measure the work done by plants, by photosynthesis? How?

Can you find estimates of total global photosynthesis, expressed in watts or horsepower or some other measure? What kinds of observations and measurements are these estimates based on?

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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:


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