A Method to Make Farms Into Carbon Sinks?

A Method to Make Farms Into Carbon Sinks?

From my weekend reading file: Jared Flesher has a great article up in the Christian Science Monitor about organic, no-till farming methods in development at the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Penn.

The idea is simple enough, on paper: to bring together organic farming, which has been shown to sequester 1,000 pounds of carbon per acre per year, and no-till farming methods, where farmers don't plow their fields as a way of building up intensive root systems that absorb carbon dioxide. By bringing the two methods together, Rodale researchers think that farms could absorb as much as 3,000 pounds of CO2 per acre per year. And that adds up:
The claim: If organic no-till agriculture were used successfully on all of the earth’s 3.5 billion tillable acres, it would absorb and sequester more than half of all present-day CO2 emissions every year, according to Rodale Institute research director Paul Hepperly.

At the same time, the practice would also curb soil erosion and the dangers of chemical runoff.

“No-till organic is probably one of the best systems for helping to sequester carbon,” says John Reganold, a soil scientist who has studied sustainable agriculture at Washington State University at Pullman for 25 years. “What Rodale is doing is the best of both worlds.”
If you're as interested as I am in the power of a rejuvenated, diverse, local and organic agriculture system as a method to cure many of our social and environmental ills, read Jared's article in its entirety. And if you really want to dig in, check out this research from Rodale on how organic farming can be one climate change solution among many.

Farm photos CC-licensed by Flickr users mahalie and pfly.