Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Taking the Carbon Challenge

I was tickled to find two monarch butterfly caterpillars this week while walking one of our pastures. They were very common when I was a kid, but I haven't seen one for years. 

I celebrated my birthday by helping set up a carbon monitoring plot on our land. Well, actually, I just watched and asked questions. We met Peter Donovan some years ago when we were both interested in animal handling to achieve time-controlled grazing. He's taking his "carbon challenge" on the road in a refurbished school bus to test soils and talk with landowners/managers about managing for increased carbon uptake. 

We took Peter by the same pasture where I spotted the caterpillars. We walked through the standing biomass and decided this pasture was "harvesting" carbon at a good rate.

We went on to a pasture that wasn't in such good shape, one we can hopefully, through improved management, show increased carbon in the soil when Peter returns in three years.

Photosynthesis takes carbon from the air and transfers it to plants, and from there into the soil. When a stand of grass is not allowed to express itself because of over-grazing, or conversely when plants are over mature from a lack of grazing and are no longer in a green and growing state, the sequestration of carbon into the soil is hindered. This promotion of photosynthesis not only addresses heavy carbon dioxide loads in the atmosphere, but means vital soils as well.

No matter where you stand on climate change - the seriousness of, the cause of, the cure for - I think we can all agree that healthy stabile soils are essential for the planet.

Happy trails, Peter. 

soil samples to test carbon

No comments:

Post a Comment