Farmers Sequestering Carbon for Better Soil Health

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Author: Brian Todd | Published: October 23, 2017

Where do you keep your carbon?

If you’re Jon Luhman, you’re trying to sock some away in the ground. Preferably for a rainy day.

Luhman and his son, Jared Luhman, raise beef cows, black beans and corn, plus forage for the cattle — all of it organic — on a little more than 700 acres at Dry Creek Red Angus farm, northwest of Goodhue.

In the process, Luhman is putting carbon back into the soil, a process he said helps his farm in a multitude of ways.

“The number one reason is for fertility,” he said. “Its a big benefit for production. It absorbs more moisture. So there’s more water infiltration, more organic matter and less tillage.”

In fact, a pound of organic matter — which consists of 58 percent carbon — can hold as much as six pounds of water in the soil, according to University of Minnesota Extension. In sandy soil, organic matter and the water it holds can make the difference between a successful crop and crop failure in a dry year.

All of this, he said, leads to his motto: “Leave the soil in a better state than when we started.”

Promoting benefits

That’s the message Shona Snater said she hopes other farmers hear when they attend field days organized by the Land Stewardship Project. Snater, a member of the LSP’s soil health team, said that while the benefits of adding carbon to the soil — essentially a form of carbon sequestration — has a positive effect in the battle against climate change, it is important to let farmers understand the economic and agricultural benefits of the practice.

 

“We want to promote the positive benefits,” she said. “Maybe not just for climate change, but for their own profitability.”

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