A Sinking Feeling. How regenerative farming can rebalance the carbon cycle

A Sinking Feeling. How regenerative farming can rebalance the carbon cycle
By Scout Arnone

If I was going to ask you to picture a sink, you might suddenly remember the dishes soaking over in the kitchen. But the sink I really want you to picture is one alive with the mooing of happy calves, the buzz of beetles in nearby thickets, and the sound of birds ruffling their feathers in a sunbeam before settling back into scratching at the soil for treats. Here’s a picture of Falling Sky Farm to help.

Cattle and regenerative farming at Falling Sky Farms, Grass Root's Farmer's Co-op

What you’re seeing is a sink — a carbon sink.

If you’re not familiar with the carbon cycle, here’s what you need to know: it all starts with atmospheric C02 (C02 is the building blocks of all life), water and sunlight which is converted into new plant material through photosynthesis. Those plants die or are eaten by animals releasing some C02 (and other gasses) back into the atmosphere and storing some underground.

Since the industrial revolution began in the last century, humans have managed to tip the cycle out of balance by harvesting stored carbon and tilling and depleting our valuable topsoil. The long and short of it is: there is too much carbon in the atmosphere and not enough in the earth. 

As much as irresponsible, industrial farming has been a culprit of this current predicament, farming may also be our answer. Sustainable farming, that is! 

So how does a farm go from being an atmospheric carbon culprit to a mean, green, carbon sink machine? 

  • Introducing a no-till method. This means keeping crop residue on the soil and leaving the soil largely undisturbed while planting.

  • Pasture raising livestock. Livestocks roaming on the landscape along with the crops they feed on is incredibly beneficial to returning carbon to the soil especially when farmers practice rotational grazing. Rotational grazing is the practice of keeping your livestock moving as they graze from one paddock to the next. This gives the area that they just passed over time to rejuvenate with native forbs and grasses and means less soil erosion.
  • Cover crops are planted with the intent to prevent soil erosion after the primary crop has been harvested. The benefits of cover crops are nearly endless and they include better water quality, decreased need for fertilizers, less soil compaction, and a lot more soil fertility. 

  • Excluding artificial chemicals. This means that an eco-conscious farmer does not apply pesticides and artificial fertilizers but instead uses organic fertilizers and natural pest control. These techniques include the use of compost, manure and cover crops – techniques that enhance the biological health of soils and increase carbon retention in the soil.

While these carbon sequestering farming techniques may be more labor for farmers, it’s truly a labor of love that means we get to give back to the earth everything that she has given us. 

When you buy from Grass Roots farms, you’re directly helping sustainable farms sequester carbon from the atmosphere and back into the earth. Carbon sinks like forests, wetlands, and farms are the key to a brighter, healthier future. Sometimes that “sinking feeling” is a good one!

Happy eating!


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