With funding from IERCD's Special Projects Fund, we are collaborating with the Carbon Cycle Institute and our federal partner, the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to write and implement our District's first carbon farm plan at Highland Springs Ranch and 123 Farms. The plan will help Highland Springs sequester carbon in their soil and is a crucial step in improving crop yields, adding groundwater storage, and even combating climate change.
Most modern agriculture has done serious damage to our natural resources. Large-scale, chemically intensive farming often results in lower organic matter in the soil, erosion, increased carbon dioxide emissions, and poor water infiltration. In fact, modern agriculture has become a significant contributor to global climate change and carbon dioxide emissions.
Fortunately, there is a solution, a solution that can help mitigate climate change, decrease water needs, and increase productivity. That solution is carbon farming. Carbon farming involves using specific NRCS Conservation Practices that increase the rate at which carbon is pulled from the atmosphere and ‘stored’ in the soil.
Once sequestered in soil, carbon helps make plants healthy and more nutrient-dense. It serves as one of the primary building blocks to healthy soil. Using simple Conservation Practices like no-till agriculture prevents soil disturbance and disruption, thereby keeping carbon in the ground. Compost applications provide additional nutrients to make soil more healthy and productive. Hedgerows can protect soil from wind erosion.
In partnership with NRCS and the Carbon Cycle Institute, IERCD is creating its first Carbon Farm Plan at Highland Springs Ranch and 123 Farms. Carbon Farm plans are being written and implemented by RCDs all over the state. They are helping farmers and ranchers assess all the possible ways they can sequester additional carbon in their soils. These plans go hand in hand with NRCS Conservation Plans, and together can help producers reduce fertilizer and pesticide costs, decrease irrigation needs, and increase crop yields.
Highland Springs is known for its lavender, but also grows other specialty crops and even boasts a small sheep herd. Every component of this farm can be managed in a way that benefits the farm, our natural resources, and the climate. Stay tuned for more information or check out the brand new RCD Project Tracker to learn more about this project.
If you would like more information on carbon farming, regenerative agriculture, or soil science feel free to contact us, or check out the following resources.