This dusty town in San Benito County, about an hour by car southeast of Santa Cruz, is the site of Paicines Ranch, an experiment in creating a diverse ecosystem dedicated to regenerative agriculture and soil health.
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The 10 acres of nebbiolo growing on this remote ridge about 25 miles west of Geyserville and 10 miles from the Pacific in northern Sonoma County, make the vineyard unusual enough in California. The other grapes make it positively singular.
The vast Mississippi River watershed contains famously fertile soil, making the cropland of the American Midwest some of the most valuable and productive in the world. The watershed is also projected to flood more frequently and intensely as the climate warms, meaning more of that prized farmland will end up underwater, more often.
In western Maryland this March, the proverbial lion and lamb seemed to be running circles around each other. Instead of warming up gradually, the temperature rose and fell unpredictably. Warm sun alternated with freezing rain. In response, Ron Holter’s Jersey cows seemed to be clinging cautiously to their winter coats. A patchwork of fuzzy spots remained on top of their emerging summer hides, as they nursed a group of calves testing out wobbly legs.
Westside Elementary opened its doors nearly a century ago here in the San Joaquin Valley, among the most productive agricultural regions on earth. As recently as 1995, nearly 500 students filled its classrooms. Now 160 students attend and enrollment is falling fast.
It’s an unseasonably warm February day near Turlock, California, and farmer-researcher Jonathan Lundgren is handing out tiny white balls of clay. A group of us have gathered at the edge of the almond orchard at Burroughs Family Farms, a 400-acre organic, regenerative farm in the San Joaquin Valley, for a field day. Lundgren, who is visiting from South Dakota, has invited us to replicate an experiment that he and the scientists he works with use often.
Last week, Soilworks portfolio company Grassroots Carbon announced its first tranche of rancher payments for delivered soil carbon credits, the first of its kind for delivered credits to ranchers (various groups have provided transition finance of some sort with expected carbon credit outcomes.) While the quality of soil carbon credits and the increasing prominence in carbon credit buyer portfolios have been previously discussed by us here at The Regeneration Weekly, we must endeavor to understand how putting cash in ranchers’ pockets changes the attractiveness of the profession – and incentivizes a shift to regenerative practices on each ranch.
Farmers and ranchers play a central role in the health of our climate and planet. Today, they face more and more pressure from climate change, and one solution — soil carbon sequestration — has the potential to radically transform their ability to respond. But before we can pay farmers to stow carbon in the soil, we need to know a lot more about sequestration practices. That’s why Carbon180 is proposing a research moonshot (and dedicating this entire newsletter issue to the topic of soil carbon). Centered at USDA, the Soil Carbon Moonshot sets forth a vision to accelerate the science and tools needed to develop the next generation of agricultural climate solutions, proposing a $2.3B investment spread over five areas:
In an experiment a decade in the making, biologists are releasing hatchery salmon onto flooded Northern California rice fields, seeking to replenish endangered fish species while simultaneously benefiting the farmers’ business model.
While most people associate West Virginia with coal mining, the hills and valleys are also suited for agriculture. And as coal production wanes, farmers are seeing growing opportunities to expand their sector.