November 2011 update

Soil Carbon Coalition
November 6, 2011

The Soil Carbon Challenge now has baseline plots from California to Vermont, Mexico to Canada. The Challenge is a competition to showcase land managers who can turn atmospheric carbon into water-holding, fertility-enhancing soil organic matter.

  monitoring in Saskatchewan
  Setting up a baseline plot with Ralph Corcoran near Langbank, Saskatchewan.
  occupy the carbon cycle
  Humans decisions dominate the carbon cycle, not just fossil fuel emissions, but the many times greater exchange of carbon between the atmosphere, plants, and soil. We the 99%! Can we take responsibility for our decisions about the soil surface, and the carbon cycle?

In 1938, Charles Kellogg of the US Department of Agriculture asked the question, "Do civilizations fall because the soil fails to produce -- or does a soil fail only when the people living on it no longer know how to manage their civilization?" This profound question echoes today in a larger context. Can we manage our civilization so that we can enhance (slow down) carbon and water cycling? Remember, water is the #1 greenhouse gas in terms of its overall effect, and water follows carbon both into the air and back into the soil. For the past several thousand years or perhaps longer, human decisions have been contributing to faster carbon and water cycling. If you want to help change the way we think about the carbon and water cycles, and the opportunities for enhancing these, please consider the following options:

1. Enter the Challenge. In North America, we can do replicable baselines for about $250 per plot, depending on location and timing. Everything we do is open source, and Peter is looking to teach others the practical, accurate, and replicable monitoring method.

2. Ask Peter or one of our board members or associates to address a group in your area. For example, Peter does the following facilitated workshop, either half or full day:

Discovering the carbon cycle

Most of what we hear about carbon, and the global carbon cycle, is threatening and negative. It's a bad situation, and we don't seem to have much power or leverage over it.

All of our environmental and economic issues depend on the ways carbon and water move, on every scale from the square foot of soil surface to the entire globe. Human decisions have an enormous influence on the way these cycles function. And underlying human decisions are our beliefs, often based on past experience and training.

Peter Donovan has been establishing soil carbon baseline measurements on progressive and innovative ranches and farms across the continent, and is currently traveling south along the eastern U.S. doing the same. He will tell the fascinating and little-known story of the discovery of the carbon cycle, its relation to water, describe what some of these innovative ranchers and farmers are doing to enhance these functions, and facilitate a discussion on ways to take advantage of these enormous opportunities.

Said a workshop participant, "Peter's work is not what I expected - and it was phenomenally interesting, thought-provoking, challenging and deeply inspiring."

  Abe Collins on his farm near Swanton, Vermont, where he custom grazes beef cattle and has deepened and darkened his topsoil considerably via planned grazing.

3. Make a donation. If you would like to help support a Challenge or monitoring project in a specific area, a specific sector, or even with a specific land manager, we'll gladly help you do this. With a clearly delimited project, you can get an accounting, in tons, of the atmospheric carbon that is turned into water-holding, fertility-enhancing soil carbon. You can start your own localized Soil Carbon Challenge, such as Stan Ward initiated in Vermont!

Peter's projected itinerary for Nov-Dec 2012

Nov 11 - 27: travel south from Vermont through New York, eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, to western North Carolina

Nov 27 - Dec 18: western North Carolina to eastern Texas

Dec 18 - Jan 5, 2012: western Texas

Jan 5 - on: New Mexico, Arizona, Sonora, California, Oregon

This is a projected itinerary. Check our events calendar on the right hand side of the website, and don't hesitate to call or email me. Some days I do not have connectivity, but I can usually get back to you within a day or two.


   Peter Donovan
   Soil Carbon Coalition

541-263-1888 (U.S. eastern time for November)