What is Carbon Farming?

All agricultural production originates from the process of plant photosynthesis. With energy from the sun, plants combine carbon dioxide CO2 from the air with water and minerals from the soil to produce carbohydrates, building their bodies and the soil around them. Carbon is recognized as a key energy currency of biological systems, including agricultural systems. Agricultural production depends on plant photosynthesis to move carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and into the plant, where it is transformed into agricultural products: food, flora, fuel or fiber.

Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Common agricultural practices, including driving a tractor, tilling the soil, overgrazing, clearing forests and degrading water sources, result in the return of this soil and biomass carbon to the air. It is estimated that as much as one-third of the surplus CO2 in the atmosphere that’s causing climate change has come from agricultural and land management practices.

On the other hand, there are certain commonly used agricultural practices through which photosynthetically derived carbon can be sequestered and stored in the soil. Carbon farming involves implementing practices that are known to improve the rate at which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and converted to plant material and soil organic matter. Carbon farming is successful when carbon gains resulting from enhanced land management or conservation practices exceed carbon losses.

Carbon Farming in Marin County

From the original three Marin County ranches, the Marin Carbon Project has assisted in the development and implementation of over a dozen carbon farm plans and is dedicated to producing 20 by 2020.

*If you are an agricultural producer or landowner in Marin County interested in obtaining a carbon farm plan, please contact the Marin RCD by emailing  marinrcd@marinrcd.org  or calling (415) 663-1170.

Resource List

PowerPoint

Poster

Brochure

Curriculum:

Climate Friendly Conservation Principles