What is Carbon Farming?
All farming is carbon farming. Plant life grows and develops its very form from carbon that is sourced from the atmosphere. Solar energy drives this transformation of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into carbohydrates (sugars, starches and cellulose). This process is called photosynthesis. The method of carbon farming that Fibershed advocates for and supports our producer farms and ranches to implement is focused upon enhancing the movement of carbon into plants and soil at rates exceeding what would occur under business-as-usual circumstances, with the intent goal of creating farms and ranches that are net carbon sinks. Carbon farming practices include, but are not limited to, those approved through our Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). These carbon farming practices are known to draw carbon down from the atmosphere and store it plant tissue and soil—all the while building soil fertility and simultaneously ameliorating the primary cause of climate change.
What is a Carbon Farm Plan?
A Carbon Farm Plan is a document written in collaboration with a technical service provider (this can occur in partnership with a local Resource Conservation District or NRCS office agent). The plan identifies which carbon farming practices would be most beneficial to implement, and where these practices would specifically be located on the ranch or farm. The plan also quantifies the amount of carbon that could be sequestered through enacting each practice on the ground.
How can Carbon Farming benefit my farm or ranch?
In addition to increasing yields of your cash crop or forage production naturally and ameliorating the root cause of climate change, carbon farming can also help you to connect your fiber or dye products to new climate-conscious consumers who are growing in number each year. Fibershed has created a Climate Beneficial Verification program to support you in communicating what you’re doing with the customers that purchase your goods.
How do I become Climate Beneficial?
The first step is to participate in Fibershed’s free soil sampling program (contact firstname.lastname@example.org). After completing soil sampling, the next step would be to initiate and complete a Carbon Farm Plan. Once you’ve implemented the first practice from your plan, you are then entered into the program. If you’ve already completed soil samples and have begun implementing carbon farm practices but are still waiting to complete a Carbon Farm Plan, you qualify to be part of Fibershed’s Climate Beneficial Transitional Program.
Becoming verified as a Climate Beneficial Producer
Below are the steps you can take to become Climate Beneficial Verified:
STEP 1: Have soil samples taken through Fibershed. Contact Nicholas Wenner at email@example.com to learn more and get started.
STEP 2: Let Fibershed know you are interested in a Carbon Farm Plan
STEP 3: With the help of a Technical Service Provider (could be your Resource Conservation District or an NRCS Carbon Farm Planner) collaborate to develop your carbon farm plan (this can take several months).
STEP 4: Determine a first practice that you will implement and ask for help as needed from Fibershed staff, and/or your Resource Conservation District to establish what funding opportunities are available to help you.
STEP 5: Implement a first practice and share images and details of your implementation process with Fibershed staff.
What does Climate Beneficial equate to on the ground?
Climate Beneficial fiber and dyes are verified by Fibershed (501c3 organization), through an annual evaluation of a farm or ranch’s carbon farm practice implementation. Annual implementation of one’s Carbon Farm Plan is the baseline for inclusion in our Climate Beneficial Program, providing active members free usage of the logo, free tags and signage.
The Carbon Cycle
Powered by the sun’s solar energy, carbon from the atmosphere (carbon dioxide) is absorbed by plant life and is then immediately transformed into the oxygen we breathe and into the carbohydrates we eat and wear. Some of this carbon makes its way into the soil as root structures and some makes its way into the soil as liquid glucose. This gas-to-mass process is the cornerstone of all life on earth. Carbon has many forms in addition to carbon dioxide and carbohydrates—it changes form as it moves through five pools on planet Earth. Carbon dioxide, carbohydrates, fossil carbon, soil carbon, and carbonic acid are examples of carbon’s existence within the carbon cycle.
Given how imbalanced the carbon cycle has become due to human activity, we have both an opportunity and challenge to become conscious carbon cycle managers, and enhance the movement of carbon into the soils that produce our material culture. We can do this in a manner that begins to remove the legacy load of carbon that we’ve deposited into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels.
Fibershed is working to enhance carbon draw down into our soils in collaboration with the many producers in our community who are growing in their commitment to activating and implementing Carbon Farming practices in the landscapes that they manage.
Carbon Farming Practices (most common)
Compost Application Hedgerow Planting Mulching Residue and Tillage Management No Till/Direct Seed Multi-Story Cropping Windbreak/Shelterbelt Establishment Silvopasture Establishment Forage/Range Planting Nutrient Management Forest Stand Improvement Contour Buffer StripsRiparian Restoration Riparian Forest Buffer Cover Crop Vegetative Barrier Windbreak/Shelterbelt Renovation Alley Cropping Riparian Herbaceous Cover Herbaceous Wind Barrier Filter Strip