Carbon farming is the agricultural approach to not only lessen carbon emissions into the atmosphere but return excess carbon into the soil and vegetation. Reducing carbon emissions helps to combat Global Warming, and returning excess carbon to the soil assists with plant growth. These plants feed the animals that then feed us.
At Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed, our 100 percent grass fed beef is the product of regenerative agriculture, a set of holistic land management practices that includes carbon farming. We believe that regenerative agriculture is an important tool in the fight against climate change. What’s more, these same sustainable practices can also provide a significant boost to a farmer’s bottom line.
Understanding carbon farming
Carbon farming is a range of agricultural procedures designed to sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide by returning it to the soil. These procedures are not new, with many of them being staples of organic farming. The steps that organic farmers take to feed crops and regenerate the land have the added bonus of drawing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and into the ground where it is desperately needed.
Traditional farming can release carbon into the atmosphere in a number of ways. Living plants absorb carbon from the air and either release it back into the air or store it in the ground when they die. Tilling the ground releases the carbon dioxide into the air again.
Remember, while the atmosphere is facing its highest levels of carbon in history, the opposite is true underground. Years of conventional farming practices have drained the ground of carbon dioxide and minerals necessary for plant growth.
Conventional agriculture practices also rely on nitrogen-based fertilizers that further introduce heavy amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Carbon farming is different. This process focuses on keeping as much carbon in the earth as possible.
The tenets of carbon farming
While the term “carbon farming” can cover a wide range of potential strategies, there are five general tenets in the carbon farming process. These tenets include:
- No tilling. Tilling the land is one of the primary culprits when it comes to CO2 emissions in agriculture. Tilling causes the soil to intermix with air, which results in carbon oxidizing into the atmosphere. Instead of tilling, carbon farming focuses on crops that are perennial or can be planted without the need for tilling.
- Unlike soil, the carbon in compost is not as easy to oxidize. For that reason, carbon farmers often spread compost over the soil to help prevent oxidization.
- Organic mulch. Mulching using organic matter can also help reduce emissions. This could involve anything from wood chips to crop residue.
- Cover crops. The use of cover crops in addition to cash crops could greatly enrich the soil. Fast-growing clover could continue to provide carbon in the soil during cold months or following a cash crop harvest.
- Rotating livestock. Carbon farmers rotate their grazing herds through a number of paddocks as opposed to allowing them to graze freely across the entire pasture. This allows the parts of the pasture that are not in use to regenerate.
Why is carbon farming important?
By sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the soil, carbon farming can help reverse the effects of the climate crisis and create a sustainable farming future on our planet.
Carbon farming techniques can minimize erosion, improve soil biodiversity, and boost microbial activity. By restoring depleted soil and fueling healthy plant growth, carbon farming practices also help produce nutrient-rich meat from the livestock that graze on the plants. This in turn makes for healthier and happier humans who eat the beef.
At Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed, we apply the carbon farming approach to our 100% pasture-raised, grass fed, grass finished beef. We believe these efforts not only sustain the environment but improve the quality of the food we all depend on. Please visit our online store and shop our grass fed beef delivery options today!
“All the benefits of grass-fed beef are ONLY gained when the cattle are holistically grazed for their lifetime.”
—Matt Maier, Chief Renegade