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This ‘Carbon Removal Marketplace’ Will Make Buying Offsets Easier

As companies like Lyft start to invest to make up for their carbon footprints, the world of offset buying needs more transparency and accountability.

Author: Adele Peters | Published: June 14, 2018

On his small family farm in Petaluma, California, Don Gilardi hopes to begin spreading compost over his pastures next year as a way to fight climate change. The technique helps plants pull more carbon from the air and store it in the soil. The farm will also use other “carbon farming” methods, like planting trees on pastures and managed grazing. In doing so, it could sequester an average of 295 metric tons of CO2 a year, more than the emissions of driving a Toyota Camry a million miles. In 20 years, the farm could sequester 32 times as much carbon.

A new “carbon removal marketplace” hopes to make it easier for consumers and businesses to directly support farmers who, like Gilardi, want to shift to climate-friendly practices. It will also later connect consumers to other types of carbon offsets, such as those from tree-planting projects. Called Nori, the new platform, which will launch by the end of the year, will use blockchain to streamline the process of buying and selling offsets.

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Carbon Farmers Work to Clean Up the World’s Mess

Author: Dana J. Graef | Published: June 14, 2018

It was a bright afternoon in March of 2011 when I met Pedro (a pseudonym) on his organic farm in the mountains of Costa Rica, north of San José. I was there to do research on changing agricultural practices in the country. As we walked around his land, he showed me his greenhouses where lettuce, potatoes, and peppers grew. The warm air smelled earthy and sweet.

Outside, there were curving rows of carrots planted in the dark earth. He pulled some out and, after washing off clumps of dirt that were clinging to the roots, handed them to me to taste. They were different colors, and each had its own flavor—the yellow was sweeter than the white.

There was a slight breeze. The rolling landscape was vibrant and green. And there was carbon in the ground. Pedro knew it was there, and he was talking about it because of climate change.

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Carbon Farming Works. Can It Scale up in Time to Make a Difference?

The knowledge and tools to sequester carbon on farmland have blossomed rapidly in California; now farmers and ranchers just need funding to make it happen.

Author: Twilight Greenaway | Published: June 12, 2018

Lani Estill is serious about wool. And not just in a knitting-people-sweaters kind of way. Estill and her husband John own thousands of sweeping acres in the northwest corner of California, where they graze cattle and Rambouillet sheep, a cousin of the Merino with exceptionally soft, elastic wool.

“Ninety percent of our income from the sheep herd comes from the lamb we sell,” says Estill. But the wool, “it’s where my passion is.”

Wool, an often-overlooked agricultural commodity, has also opened a number of unexpected doors for Bare Ranch, the land Estill and her family call home. In fact, their small yarn and wool business has allowed Lani and John to begin “carbon farming,” or considering how and where their land can pull more carbon from the atmosphere and put it into the soil in an effort to mitigate climate change. And in a rural part of the state where talk of climate change can cause many a raised eyebrow, such a shift is pretty remarkable.

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Carbon Farming Coming to Santa Barbara

Author: Tanner Walker | Published: May 29, 2018

Carbon ranching is coming to Santa Barbara, but farmers aren’t growing carbon — they’re putting it back into the ground. With the help of compost and cattle, native grasses can sequester organic carbon, enriching the soil and removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

For example, a single acre of grazed grasslands in Santa Barbara can remove the equivalent of 3.9 tons of CO2 each year by using a compost application plan outlined by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

According to the Community Environmental Council of Santa Barbara, 270,000 acres in the county are suitable for compost application. Even if only 15 percent of the available land received a single dusting of compost, their analysis “shows that the increased sequestration could offset all of the greenhouse gas emissions from the county’s agricultural sector.”

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Carbon Farming Isn’t Worth It for Farmers. Two Blockchain Companies Want to Change That

Can the tech that powers cryptocurrency spark a regenerative ag revolution?

Author: Jessica McKenzie | Published: June 4, 2018

When the price of Bitcoin skyrocketed at the end of 2017, analysts crunched the numbers and concluded that the cryptocurrency was set to consume the entire global energy supply by the end of 2020. “Mining” Bitcoin involves solving increasingly complex mathematical equations that secure the network in exchange for newly-minted cryptocurrency—which incidentally requires lots of energy. Huge server farms have popped up around the world for the express purpose of generating the virtual cash, from China to upstate New York, where one town put a moratorium on new commercial cryptocurrency mining operations to protect “the City’s natural, historic, cultural and electrical resources.”

But in spite of Bitcoin’s eco-unfriendly reputation, some organizations propose using blockchain, the technology that makes the cryptocurrency possible, to power a regenerative agricultural revolution. The ultimate goal is to reverse the flow of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere until atmospheric levels fall to a degree that scientists agree will stabilize the climate.

Regenerative agriculture describes a range of farming practices that prioritize soil health and biodiversity over short-term gains that can be derived from tilling and weeding, heavy pesticide use, or artificial fertilizers. Advocates of regenerative agriculture have long argued that holistic land management is better for the farmer and for the earth, but the movement has recently gotten a boost from interest in one of its other benefits: carbon sequestration.

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Healthy, ‘Climate-Beneficial’ Soil Is the Next Supply Chain Frontier

Armed with millions of dollars and a new understanding of sustainable agriculture, Sallie Calhoun is activating a new frontline in the fight against climate change: regenerative soil.

Author: Risa Blumlien | Published: April 20, 2018

Investor and carbon farmer Sallie Calhoun is on a mission: to change our relationship to the earth beneath our feet. After selling her tech company in 2001, she quickly became the proud owner of 7,600 acres of California grassland called Paicines Ranch — plus enough money to leverage some serious change. Now, along with impact investing guru Esther Park, she co-manages a soil-health portfolio called Cienega Capital with $20 million deployed to-date, and has recently co-founded the No Regrets Initiative to build momentum toward climate-beneficial communities. Why is Calhoun so committed to turning dollars into dirt? We sat down with her to learn more and find out.

Why is regenerative soil important?

In a closed environment (like our planet), matter is neither created nor destroyed. So as atmospheric carbon steadily increases (in December 2017, it passed 410 parts per million for the first time in millions of years), carbon levels must steadily decrease somewhere else — and that somewhere else is our global soils. To reverse climate change, carbon in the atmosphere must return to the soil, a process that green, photosynthesizing plants are already perfectly designed to execute.

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Australian Scientist Urges Farmers to Take a Light Touch With Their Soils

Published: May 4, 2018

Curiosity about regenerative agriculture is growing and a field day drew an audience of more than 150 people to the Clinton Community Hall in South Otago this week.

The attraction was an address by Australian soil scientist Dr Christine Jones, whose research on restoring soil health has proven controversial among New Zealand soil scientists.

Jones introduced her audience to the concept of “light farming” – restoring carbon, organic nitrogen and biodiversity to agricultural soils through photosynthesis.

“Imagine there was a process that could remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, replace it with life-giving oxygen, support a robust soil microbiome, regenerate topsoil, enhance the nutrient density of food, restore water balance to the landscape and increase the profitability of agriculture,” she said in a supporting scientific paper.

“Fortunately there is. It’s called photosynthesis.”

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With New Carbon Farming Project, Boulder County Could Become Massive Greenhouse Gas Sponge

Author: Will Brendza | Published: April 12, 2018

The education room of the Boulder County Recycling Center filled up quickly for the Research Conservation Advisory Board meeting. People trickled in, shaking the wet spring snow from their jackets.

It was a mixed bag: city officials, scientific researchers, agriculturalists, local residents and environmental activists. This assorted crowd had convened to discuss phase I of Boulder County and the City of Boulder’s joint carbon sequestration pilot project — an initiative that could drive a new era of sustainability along Colorado’s Front Range.

Carbon sequestration, or “carbon farming,” is a process that draws carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stores it in land-based systems; mitigating emissions and increasing soil fertility at the same time.

Interest in this agricultural practice is blossoming throughout the U.S. and many local farmers, land owners and land managers are already using carbon farming techniques. In places like Marin County, California, large-scale projects are already underway to amplify carbon sequestration among rangelands, farmlands and forests by assembling a consortium of independent agricultural institutions.

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Rangelands Carbon Thumbs Up

Author: Rueben Hale | Published: March 14, 2018

Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan believes a WA carbon farming industry could be possible for the rangelands under existing pastoral lease legislation.

Ms MacTiernan will meet legal experts tomorrow to “get a sense” of how a carbon industry could be developed on pastoral land without changes to the Land Administration Act.

Recent modelling shows the average Southern Rangelands pastoral lease could earn $145,000 to $195,000 a year from the industry.

The minister is under pressure to get the pastoral lands reforms under way since taking responsibility from Lands Minister Rita Saffioti last year.

She listed carbon farming as a vital opportunity to be explored but says native title, government ownership rights and other agency issues had made it hard.

“I understand the frustration of many people living in the rangelands, and we need to move quickly on these issues,” she said.

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Gear News: The North Face Launches New Carbon-Offsetting Beanie

Author: Hayley Helms | Published: November 13, 2017

The North Face has come up with a unique way of offsetting the carbon effects that are associated with modern farming by implementing new practices at the ranch that produces the wool for their “climate beneficial” Cali Wool beanie ($45).

One of the brand’s suppliers, Bare Ranch, located in Sunrise Valley at the border of California and Nevada, has implemented methods that, according to Fast Company, “sequester around 4,000 metric tons of CO2, offsetting the emissions from roughly 850 cars” per year.

The process started when Fibershed, an organization that focuses on regional textile production, reached out to Bare Ranch as part of its research; they then worked with The North Face to help develop a “carbon farming” plan.

In all farming, carbon is produced. It’s part of the natural cycle of growing crops. The key in reducing the effects of carbon emissions isn’t to completely get rid of carbon – that’s just not possible. Instead, farms and ranches can redirect that carbon, and make sure that it stays in the soil, not in our atmosphere.

Methods of removing more carbon from the air than produced at Bare Ranch include planting intermittent, short term crops between crops that need to be replanted every few years, avoiding bare soil where carbon can escape, adding complimentary crops to fields that help enhance soil, planting trees that will lock carbon into the soil, and managing where sheep graze all help keep carbon in check.

For The North Face, they determined that the most environmental impact of its products happened in production and manufacturing, which is why they switched to wool, which has a lower impact than other materials.

The North Face plans to add more wool into their 2018 line, but acknowledges scaling the program to produce more, while remaining sustainable, will be a challenge.

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