What is “Soil Carbon Plus”?
The beauty of soil carbon storage is the multitude of other benefits that accompany this nature-based solution, particularly when the Grassroots Carbon business model is deployed. At Grassroots Carbon, we call these additional benefits “soil carbon plus.” Drawdown through soil carbon also meets many UN Sustainable Development Goals, such as good health and well-being, climate action, improved life on land, clean water and sanitation, sustainable cities and communities, and responsible consumption and production.
IMPROVING SOIL HEALTH RESTORES GRASSLAND ECOLOGY
In using regenerative agriculture practices to restore their soil health, land managers can also see (literally!) the restoration of their grassland ecology. Preventing cattle from grazing plants to the point of destruction allows the return of the native grasses. The natural fertilizer from cattle (manure and urea) attracts a multitude of insects as well. Between the restored grasses and insect life, the land starts to attract a variety of birds and other wildlife.
RESTORING SOIL HEALTH RESTORES THE WATER CYCLE
As grassland ecology is restored and the native grasses develop deep root systems, these plants become more resilient, blocking erosions and increasing absorption of water. In the switch from continuous grazing (the traditional practice) to adaptive multi-paddock or AMP grazing (the regenerative practice), some land managers see a shift from water infiltration of less than one inch per hour to greater than eight inches per hour. This improved water infiltration has massive impacts for downstream flooding and runoff, while also allowing the land to retain the water that it needs to remain healthy.
IMPROVING SOIL HEALTH SUPPORTS A CIRCULAR ECONOMY
The biggest use of land in the US is for cattle. To support a circular economy, land managers must look at how to reduce waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use, and regenerate natural systems. In managing land with a focus on healthy soil, fewer inputs are needed due to the improved water retention and improved grasses, helping to reduce waste from the start. Cattle generate the fertilizer for the land through urea and manure and minimal (if any) supplemental feeding is needed, which helps to cut down on pollution as well. The restored grasslands used for grazing can be used-and-reused ad infinitum because it is simply a regenerated ecosystem. The more nutritious food that is the output of this cycle supports the health of consumers.
GRASSROOTS CARBON SUPPORTS AN INCREASE IN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITY AND INCOMES, WHILE ALSO PROVIDING VALUE ADDITION THROUGH SOIL HEALTH EDUCATION AND ACCESS TO THE CARBON CREDIT MARKETS.
Grassroots Carbon supports the increase in agricultural productivity by supporting regenerative agriculture (UN Sustainable Development Goal Target 2.3). Ranchers who manage their lands with adaptive multi-paddock grazing can see a 2-3x stocking rate per acre. As such, a land manager does not need to have more land – they can simply make their land more efficient. Between this improved efficiency and through carbon credit payments, food producers can improve their agricultural productivity and incomes while Grassroots Carbon supports access to educational resources and a new revenue stream.
GRASSROOTS CARBON ELIMINATES BARRIERS TO ENTRY FOR DISADVANTAGED LANDOWNERS AND INDIGENOUS GROUPS
Something unique to the Grassroots Carbon business model of which we’re particularly proud is our elimination of barriers to entry for disadvantaged landowners. The cost of measurements can be very expensive and the Grassroots Carbon business model doesn’t require any expenses out of pocket for landowners who wish to participate in our soil carbon credit program. For us, this model is critical for climate equity. We do not believe that the only players who should be able to afford to participate in the carbon credit market should be absentee millionaire landowners who have the surplus capital to cover measurement costs. By eliminating this barrier, groups who have historically had restricted access to capital can benefit from this burgeoning market.
Furthermore, BCarbon, the standard that Grassroots Carbon has selected to use for certifying credits, included indigenous groups in its development to ensure that these people can participate in the market. Other standards prohibit landowners from participating if regenerative agriculture is something that they are already doing or if it’s a common practice in their area. However, regenerative agriculture practices mimic the way that bison used to roam across the plains of the United States and the traditional land management practices of Native Americans. To copy the land management practices of these groups and then prohibit their participation is antithetical to the climate equity goals of Grassroots Carbon.
IMPROVED SOIL HEALTH AND ANIMAL WELFARE GO HAND-IN-HAND
Whether your diet qualifies as “basically a carnivore” or “vegan or bust,” we can all agree that cattle were designed to be raised in pastures. Adaptive multi-paddock grazing, which is used in regenerative agriculture and supports soil health, is a return to the natural behavior of animals. Simply switching cows from a corn or grain diet to their natural grasses can immediately demonstrate a reduction in methane emissions. Additionally, allowing them to move in more “natural” patterns reduces the stress on the animals, while improving the land.
We call that a win-win!
For more information about how Grassroots Carbon is driving a “Carbon Plus” approach to carbon storage, feel free to email us: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our How It Works page.