TOMALES — Loren Poncia scooped up a handful of dark, damp soil that could change the future of farming.
The nutrient-rich muck was filled with slithery earthworms and thin, white roots sprouting in every direction like lightning bolts.
“This is the carbon farmer’s dream,” he exclaims. “We want to see like 10 worms in a shovel-full.”
Poncia’s Stemple Creek Ranch might be a model for future farmers with its sustainable agricultural practices to keep carbon in the soil and out of the atmosphere. Along with less greenhouse gas emissions, carbon-rich soil means healthier and more productive plants, according to rangeland ecologist Jeff Creque.
Now, farmers like Poncia have the wherewithal to become better stewards of the land with the support of a collaboration of researchers known as the Marin Carbon Project. Ultimately, these researchers want to help slow climate change by introducing new, sustainable standards to American agriculture.