As much as one-third of the surplus CO2 in the atmosphere driving climate change has resulted from land management practices on agricultural lands. Carbon farming, an array of strategies designed to promote long-term carbon sequestration, holds the potential to significantly reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases by capturing carbon in the soil and plant material, while enhancing soil health and productivity.
The RCD and its LandSmart® partners are working to develop a carbon planning component to the comprehensive conservation plans developed through the LandSmart™ program, identifying practices that would allow agricultural operations to increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These practices would provide multiple benefits for climate change resiliency, by reducing atmospheric CO2 levels while improving soil health, water holding capacity, and crop and forage production. Practices also promote water conservation and reduce irrigation needs, reducing stream withdrawals and thereby enhancing water quality and instream habitat. Finally, practices such as hedgerows and windbreaks work to both sequester CO2 while enhancing on-farm wildlife and pollinator habitat.
Gold Ridge RCD is accepting applications for LandSmart(R) Carbon Farm Plans on a continuous basis. For more information, contact William Hart at William@goldridgercd.org or (707) 823-5244.
Learn more about Carbon Farm Planning from LandSmart.org
Example Draft Plans:
Gold Ridge is collaborating with other North Bay RCDs to create a comprehensive program for carbon farming on multiple agricultural sites: Orchards, Forests, Vineyards, Rangelands, and Croplands. Learn more about carbon farming and see a list of carbon farm practices applicable to some of these sites.
Sonoma County cares about climate change, and has set a high goal for reducing the activities and sources of emissions that cause warming in the atmosphere. With the use of a wide variety of beneficial practices, Sonoma County farmers have the ability to reach our County’s goal for greenhouse gas reductions. From the County’s community-based Climate Action Plan 2020: “Agricultural soil carbon levels will be substantially higher in 2050 through soil management practices supporting crop development and carbon sequestration.”
In the words of our Executive Director, Brittany Jensen, carbon farming is a regional tactic to address a global problem. “By helping farmers make carbon farming a part of their daily operations, we have the opportunity to work on a global problem – climate change – and make a local difference. By working on carbon farming with other North Bay RCDs, we also have an opportunity to strengthen our regional mission to build climate resilience across northern California."
The Gold Ridge RCD has funding to write carbon farm plans with farmers through our Regional Conservation Collaboration Program (RCCP) Grant for the next few years. However, there is a regional shortage of compost, the application of which on rangelands is a major practice on rangeland carbon farms. We are looking for new sources of large quantities of compost. Contact William Hart at William@goldridgercd.org if you want to provide RCDs with your compost.
Project Spotlight: Ocean Breeze Dairy: Ebabias Creek Riparian Restoration Project
The Ocean Breeze Dairy has been operated by the producer Jarrid Bordessa, a fifth-generation dairy operator, since 2003. In those last 16 years, his business model has shifted to grass-fed, certified organic milk production, and he is the right place to do just that. The Valley Ford dairy covers 310 acres of coastal grassland and over 4,500 feet of perennial stream.
In the 2018 annual newsletter, we shared an article about Ocean Breeze Dairy, their distributor, Organic Valley, the Carbon Cycle Institute and the RCD developed a Carbon Farm Plan for the property, identifying opportunities to increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In 2018, the RCD was successful in securing a California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Healthy Soils Program Demonstration Project to implement two of the practices identified in the plan and to engage with local farmers and ranchers through public workshops.