[permaculture] carbon sequestration

Darren Doherty darren at permaculture.biz
Tue Mar 4 04:18:07 EST 2008


Thanks Larry...you are too kind....

Following is a note a private working group I'm consulting to (in the US)
recently recieved from Dr. Rattan Lal of Ohio SU. It should answer some of
this question:

*Dear Kathy,*
*Thank you for a very interesting e-mail,and for promoting an*
*excellent idea based on the concept of environment quality.*
*I have done some calculations along the lines that you mention in*
*your e-mail.You can do these simple calculations your self.These are*
*done as follows:*
*1.Land area under crop production in the world= 1.5 billion hectare*
*(each hectare is 10,000 sq. m)*
*2.Bulk density of the soil = 1.3 ton/m3*
*3.Plow depth is 20 cm= 0.2 m*
*4. Increasing soil organic matter by 0.1%( at C content of 58% in*
*org.matter)= 0.058%/yr*
*If you multiply all these numbers it is equal to 2.2 billion tons of*
*C/yr going into the soil.The total amount increasing in the*
*atmosphere is 3.2 billion tons/yr.Thus, increasing soil organic*
*matter by 0.15%/yr should off set the increase in atmospheric*
*CO2.This rate can be maintained for 25 to 50 years.*
*In addition, we have pasture land and forest lands etc.Thus, there is*
*a huge potential of soil carbon sequestration.*
*However,implementing this strategy on a global scale is a*
*challenge,as I have found it since last 20 years.The poor farmers of*
*Africa and Asia have no resources to do what needs to be done.They*
*take away the crop residue to feed to the cattle and use dung as*
*cooking fuel.So they mine the soil organic matter to grow subsistence*
*crops.In this country, those who cultivate peat soils do the same*
*thing at a much faster rate of mining,and there is no legislation to*
*stop cultivating peat soils , draining wet lands, plowing farm lands*
*and removing crop residues for ethanol production.*
*It is a human greed in rich societies(Europe,USA) and desperateness*
*in poor societies that prevents adopting this great idea.*
*I presented this lecture at a DOE meeting last Thursday in Pittsburg*
*and was booed by the entire hall because they want to burn the coal*
*and inject carbon dioxide in the ground at 5000 ft below the*
*surface.I left the whole department annoyed with me.That is politics*
*vs science.*
*The current price of carbon dioxide at the Chicago Climate Exchange*
*is $2/ton(which is equal to $7.33/ton of C).The price is 3 to 4 times*
*that in Europe.Now that the US has agreed to accept the Kyoto treaty(*
*as per the consensus in Bali last week), the price of  C in the US*
*may go up.However, the real price of C (in terms of societal benefits*
*is $250/ton which will never happen).*
*I am attaching a few reprints for your information,and wish you a*
*great success in this noble cause.It is a win-win situation,if we can*
*implement it.*
*Best wishes for a great holiday season.*
*-- *
*Rattan Lal*
*Professor of Soil Science, SENR*
*Director, Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, OARDC/FAES*
*Past President, Soil Science Society of America*

I would like to also recommend that people interested in this subject and
the need to work on the broadacre landscapes of this planet take a tour of
the Holistic Management International's excellent website and the materials
from it. A lot of what we are doing with the Carbon Farmers of America (I am
an Integrated Consultant to CFA -  www.carbonfarmersofamerica.com) is based
around Holistic Management techniques and decision making processes.

People might like to know that one of my Marin County (CA) clients has
sponsored Dr David Pimental of Cornell University (through CFA) to conduct a
wide ranging monitoring study on a range of different methods applied by CFA
farmers (across the US) that they use to increase Soil Organic Carbon (such
as Managment Intensive Grazing or MIG, Keyline Plowing, Soil Amendments,
Compost/Compost Teas, and just about everything else that we think, but have
not necessarily quantifiably, increases SOC.

These same clients are also involved in a similar study though UC Berkeley &
UC Davis in Marin and Sanoma (CA) counties trying to understand the impact
of different grazing management and application of technologies such as
Keyline Plowing has on changing soil organic matter for this and also on the
potential to reduce Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL). Other students of our
Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute Keyline Design Course (6 day June
2007) have applied for SARE grant in which is trying to ascertain the
impacts of Keyline Plowing on SOC and a whole range of other agnonomic

We are pleased that these studies have been undertaken or are proposed and
there are others that other students of our 2007 Keyline Design Courses are
looking to do. I agree with Katherine that whilst we have to focus a lot of
our efforts on retrofitting our urban landscapes, a greater challenge to my
mind is the required grand retrofit of the agricultural systems
that currently keep these urban systems alive and perhaps the most
munificent thing we can do as supposedly civilised peoples. We will continue
in our efforts to help people do just this.

All the best,

Darren J. Doherty

On 29/02/2008, L. Santoyo <santoyo at earthflow.com> wrote:
> If you haven't seen or heard Darren Doherty of Australia Felix
> Permaculture
> -do yourself a favor and check out his website. His informative and
> entertaining lectures offer hard data and outline promising research and
> studies of carbon sequestration, top soil building and more.  See
> Doherty'simpressive work and schedule of events at
> www.permaculture.biz
> Bill Mollison has touted the land management strategies and introduced
> many
> of us to the pioneering work of P.A. Yeomans... and as we (should) know,
> Mollison brilliantly made Keyline Design a compulsory part of the
> Permaculture Design Certificate Course Curriculum.
> See Allan Yeomans, Priority One: Together We Can Beat Global Warming
> see interesting articles at:
> http://www.carbonfarmersofamerica.com/index.htm
> find out more:
> www.yeomansplow.com.au
> L.Santoyo
> www.earthflow.com
> On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 12:43 PM, Kathleen O'Brien Blair <ktho at comcast.net
> >
> wrote:
> >
> > Has anyone done the calculations to figure out how much un-built-upon
> > green surface we need to re-absorb all the carbon we've flung up out of
> > the bowels of the Underworld? And what kind of surface works best?
> > (forest, grasslands, crop-lands etc.?)
> >
> > I just don't see stopping this planetary warming trend - I think we're
> > going to have to improvise, adapt, and overcome until the planet can do
> > Her clean-up-the-carbon housekeeping. But She's gonna need lots of
> > un-built-on surface to do that. The built environment is incapable of
> > sequestering carbon at the rate it needs to be sequestered.
> >
> > Bottom line- if we don't stop the "growth & development & progress"
> > mafia - we're toast. We can't afford any more new built environment on
> > un-built-upon ground. Any.
> >
> > Kathleen
> >
> > _______________________________________________
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Darren J. Doherty

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