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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

Soil, water, and hope


THURSDAY, APRIL 13 - 7 PM - Presentation /Discussion

December 2016

Soil health and structure is the background and center of gravity for most of our big issues, including water, agricultural productivity, local economies, and resiliency to extreme weather events. Here Todd McPeak, Peter Donovan, and Jay Fuhrer are testing water infiltration in one of Todd's hayfield/pastures in North Dakota. Photo by Didi Pershouse

Thanks to all of you who have supported us in 2016, we've been working this past year on ways to make it easier for you to participate in growing a shared, local intelligence on soil health and watershed function.

We invite you to try one or more of the following.

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

December 2015 update

from Didi Pershouse and Peter Donovan

Hello Friends,

Lots of news to report here, and a request for some help…

May 2015

The sign on the back of the Soil Carbon Challenge bus. Thanks to Abe Collins for the long-overdue correction. Whole grasslands may also need people (and communities) who manage them with imagination, creativity, and commitment.

Hello Dear Friends:

Rancher-to-Rancher project

To California landowners and land managers who use livestock:

The Rancher-to-Rancher project can help you set up a small, no-risk learning site trial on your land, say a few acres or less, where you could concentrate your livestock for a few hours or a day, and give it a substantial recovery period from grazing. Our support could be help in planning the trial to work with your needs, simple monitoring of the soil surface, and an optional soil carbon baseline plot.

We are funded mainly by the 11th Hour project. To participate, contact one of our committee members:

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thank you for your contribution!

Thank you for your contribution to the Soil Carbon Coalition, a 501(c)3 organization. We will send you a receipt with our tax ID number. If you have any questions, contact Peter (info at the bottom of the page).

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Support the work of the Soil Carbon Coalition

There are several ways to support our work and partner with the Soil Carbon Coalition and the Soil Carbon Challenge.


We are a 501c3 nonprofit organization (tax ID no. 26-1692060) and donations are tax deductible. In donating to us, you have the option of supporting the Challenge generally, and/or supporting localized Challenges.

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Sept 2011 update

Soil Carbon Coalition
September 6, 2011
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