[permaculture] Carbon Farming

Darren Doherty darren at permaculture.biz
Sun Apr 18 18:40:21 EDT 2010


G'day,

Thanks for the note and interesting to hear a perspective on my workshops
third hand......what is clear about carbon farming, much of which is under
the domain of what most permaculturalists have been mooting since year zero,
is if humanity got its collective shit together, that there is the potential
to sequester the so-called legacy load of atmospheric carbon into
lithospheric carbon both in the tropics (vegetation and soils), and in the
temperates (soils and vegetation). That there are over 5 billion hectares of
land in Ag and around 100ppm of CO2 to 'get down' leaves us with 1.6%
increase in soil carbon across those acreages....pretty tough arrangement
when there are 6.5 billion plus of us!

As I explain at the top of my workshop, Permaculture ethics must come into
play here and especially the 3rd ethic (at least the one I use!) 'Distribute
Surplus, Reduce Consumption and Population' and that perennial grassland
systems across the planet can and do sequester atmospheric carbon
substantially quicker than forests (both in temperate and tropical
latitudes) and do so without cutting ourselves out of the process (ie allow
food production).

Here in Australia perhaps the most action on Carbon Farming is occurring,
owing to our lack of agricultural subsidies and a poor natural base from
which to operate in terms of landscape: for what other reason did Keyline or
Permaculture emerge from here? The US is way behind all of this because you
use most of your former magnificent perennial grasslands to grow corn and
soya and keep your animals in sheds, the opposite of what happens by and
large here in Australia. That we are moving to a situation where over 1100
farmers across Australia are practicing Pasture Cropping (growing C3 grains
into dormant C4 native grass pastures or vice versa) is a growing indication
of the on-ground action outside of policy but more from Holistic
Management-influenced hip pocket and land stewardship.

The Farm Ready <http://www.farmready.gov.au/> program is, however, an
example of policy in action that is enabling bone fide farmers and their
families access to funding to attend workshops that help them with
strategies to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. Unfortunately this
program is only available to farmers here in Australia and has allowed a
whole new generation of farmers to come along to workshops such as mine and
others like we have organised in the upcoming 'Regenerative Agriculture
Workshop Series <http://www.regenag.com/>' in 2010 and beyond.

That these systems do this and sequester 34+ tonnes of CO2/year in the
meantime, produce food for people in both cereals and livestock, the latter
on highly digestible forage (reducing methane emissions considerably). I
suppose that at the end of the day it is farmers who are the innovators and
their actions are what's really important here along with the decisions of
consumers as to what goes in their cake-holes and where that came from and
how well they are being informed about that. I don't see a lot of action
from the noisiest of policy makers around that the best outcomes to
addressing climate change come from localised carbon sequestering systems:
farmers for all of their long-time marketing nous are the readiest adapters
and this is the best start we can have. My role largely is to inform farmers
and their consumers of the production and distribution options out there and
to date we have done this with about 2000 plus people across the planet.

I would commend you to expansive Carbon
Coalition<http://www.carboncoalition.com.au/>(of which I am a member)
website as opposed to me ratting on when....It is
clear from the comments in the note that much more reading is needed and
this site is as good as any. Also to the work of the great folks at the Marin
Carbon Project <http://www.marincarbonproject.org/>where they are doing some
great action based research following my 1st US tour back in 2007.

All the best,

Darren Doherty

Rain Tenaqiya <raincascadia at ...> writes:

>
> I recently talked to a fellow permaculturist that attended a presentation
by Darren Dougherty on carbon
> farming as a solution to climate change.  I doubt his perspective was
representative of everyone who was
> present, but he was touting carbon farming as a cure-all, in the same vein
as a technological fix that
> absolves us of the need to make radical social and personal lifestyle
changes (like minimizing air
> travel).  My understanding is that carbon farming has the potential to be
a big part of the solution, but
> is limited mostly to temperate soils that are capable of storing carbon
(without the more intensive
> charcoal method) and is still in the beginning stages of investigation.
It would require the same level
> of political will that the other solutions would require in order to get
landowners and farmers around the
> world to actually implement it, so really has no strategic advantage over
the other solutions.  In my
> opinion, almost all the changes
>  that are needed to stop climate change have side benefits and should be
pursued regardless of climate
> change, so carbon farming is not special in this regard.  Could somebody
give me a realistic assessment
> of the potential of carbon farming?
>
> Thanks,
>
> Rain

-- 
Hooroo,
Darren J. Doherty

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