The CARBON FARMING SOLUTION - A Global Toolkit of Perennial Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices for Climate Change Mitigation and Food Security
by Eric Toesmeier
Part 1: The Big Idea
3: Carbon Sequestration Potentials
For this discussion, the emphasis is to be on how we can use the information from the book to mitigate climate change and rising levels of CO2. We're looking for solutions, not debate about whether or not there is a problem. I'd like the discussion to be positive, helping people to make appropriate decisions, encouraging any step in the right direction.
This is a great chapter. Toensmeier really digs into some numbers, acknowledges where the numbers are real or estimates. He's very clear that carbon farming in and of itself is not enough and rather than make a guesstimate as to exactly how much, he says he's working on calculations with Project Drawdown of which he is a senior fellow
Their mission statement:
Project Drawdown is facilitating a broad coalition of researchers, scientists, graduate students, PhDs, post-docs, policy makers, business leaders and activists to assemble and present the best available information on climate solutions in order to describe their beneficial financial, social and environmental impact over the next thirty years.
So serious people then!
If his numbers are to be believed, and I think they are, (his participation with project drawdown supports this very strongly) , then he's demonstrated that we know enough to have a serious tilt at this issue (climate change) from an agriculture perspective.
I specifically like how his argument doesn't boil down to 'We should all do permaculture' but takes a much more realistic view on expanding current models that work: no-till, cover cropping, pasture and grazing management, including silvopasture, and perennial cropping systems. His scenario sketch at the end of the chapter is wonderfully encouraging.
We're still very much in the background theory, and nowhere near the 'doing' parts of the book, but he's covered a lot of ground admirably quickly and clearly.
tl;dr Changing the way we do agriculture using current, proven practices will pull a chunk of CO2 out of the atmosphere
I like that in these early parts of the book he summarizes the problem (climate change), and how agriculture fits into a climate change solution. It is a bit disheartening to read so many unknowns in this chapter, and to read that many figures are just estimates without much research behind them. But, as he states it, systems have been developed that do sequester carbon - more research is needed to more accurately quantify how much carbon is sequestered, but there are systems that can, and in many cases, already do work in the world.
It seems that there are dangers to some solutions that have not been explored, such as nitrogen fixing trees releasing highly hazardous nitrous oxide (?).
From an initial quick idea, his statement that "The more diversity, higher density, and longer life span of trees, the more carbon is sequestered" points to incentivizing farmers and landowners to devote large areas of land towards growing highly complex forests, designing in as many stories of vegetation as possible, and then leaving it untouched. Then incentivizing the same people to adopt dense commercial agroforestry operations.
He also makes a great statement about not cutting down existing forests to adopt carbon farming strategies - they are already in place and doing a great job of keeping soil in the ground!
I wonder how much potential there is for arid regions, as he just stated that by total land area alone there is massive potential, but not a lot of potential per unit area.