Carbon Cycle Institute: Scaling Carbon Farming and Regenerative Agriculture in California

Currently, the agricultural sector is responsible for about 17% of global GHG emission, making it the second largest emitting sector. The conventional food system enables large emitters such as agricultural related deforestation, cow production, the use of synthetic fertilizers, and massive amounts of food waste, however the Carbon Cycle Institute is helping to change these practices and, in the process, reduce on farm GHG emissions. 

Carbon Cycle Institute advocates for Carbon Farming, the practice of using particular land management tools in order to drawdown Carbon from the atmosphere and put it back into the soil where it contributes to soil health. CCI works to disseminate information on the benefits of Carbon farming and how to practice it. They do this work with a variety of stakeholders including; the Regional Conservation Districts, surrounding universities, nonprofits, and policymakers. CCI ensures that farms that want to implement these changes have the technical assistance and are connected to the right networks to be successful. The main tool that is used is a Carbon Farming Plan (CFP) which asses potential GHG reductions and Carbon sequestration opportunities. The plans are tailored for each farm taking into consideration the region and the type of farming. 

A CFP combines various methods for improving the health of the soil. This translates to better water retention, less erosion, higher amounts of Carbon sequestration, and better forage yields for grazing pastures. Many of these are particularly important as we see more erratic weather patterns and intensified drought in California. One path a carbon farming plan might advocate for is exchanging fertilizers for compost, which can be produced from food waste or manure. The compost brings in nutrients and increases organic matter. In pasturelands, this means increased yields, which in turn reduces the need for agricultural expansion and deforestation. This multi-tiered approach resolves several emitters, it improves the welfare of California farmers and the quality of our land. With the work of CCI, California farmers are transforming their land from a source of high emission to a potential Carbon sink.