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Old August 10, 2019   #1
bower
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Default Carbon capture in farm and garden soil

Just wanted to start a discussion about carbon capture/ land management practices, as I am looking hard at my own place and thinking about what I should do for best management going forward.
This was the subject of IPCC report released this week:
https://phys.org/news/2019-08-climat...reenhouse.html
More to the point, the general methods, potential and goals of carbon sequester through land management are laid out in this voluntary international initiative called 4 per mille.

https://www.4p1000.org/

Discussion about policy and progress in Canada toward these goals is found here:
https://capi-icpa.ca/wp-content/uplo...aper-WEB-4.pdf
I am still mulling that over and will reread to think it through. One thing I see though is that progress is needed in my own region - Central and Atlantic are the areas which need a turnaround.


Meanwhile I invite anyone to talk about or share pics of the things you are doing that capture carbon in your garden or farm. Cover crops, intercrops, tree crops, no till, composting, etc.. I would like to hear about different things that work in different regions, because best practice in this as in everything has to be tailored to the region to some extent.

TIA for helping me to learn more about this. And thanks to the members here who are doing inspiring things and telling about it - ColeRobbie and Pure Harvest and Red Baron among others.

Last edited by bower; August 10, 2019 at 09:45 AM.
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Old August 10, 2019   #2
Worth1
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I only have an acre and dont till anymore due to weed invasion and erosion.
I showed the results some time ago and how it worked with great results.
My ground cover is native horseherb.
I live in a forest and dont on purpose grow lawn grass.
My main concern is water and soil conservation and river/lake pollution.
These are my pet projects and what I spread the word on.
I only drive to Austin for work I dont make special trips there on the weekend wasting fuel.
I use glassware and metal flatware not plastic and rarely buy paper plates.
I sharpen my knives by hand with a stone not an electric sharpener.
My can opener has a hand crank not electric.
I dont wash a bath towel after every use.
I wear clothes at home more than one time if not covered in sweat.
I don't take three showers a day like many people do.
My trash can is only about 1/4 full after two weeks of trash.
I rarely eat out and cook my own food in bulk and eat on it for the week.
When I BBQ I cook a lot at one time and don't do it every weekend.
My yard plants are extremely drought friendly.
I use pesticides rarely if at all.
I don't watch TV and it hasn't been on in months using electricity.
The list could go on forever.

I dont think anyone can argue with that no matter what side of the fence they are on.
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Old August 10, 2019   #3
bower
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You have a really nice place, Worth. And it sounds like you're in a good place with it, too. My situation is a bit more complicated. My perennial garden is fine and full, no problems there, but I am growing more vegetables now - and frankly we have to do that. There is not enough agriculture in our region, period. So I want to grow more garlic and onions as well, which means I need more beds in rotation and a plan to crop or cover crop in alternate years.
This year I experimented with barley, flax, and triticale (thanks to Nicky swap!) and some peas too of course. I just wanted to see if I could produce seed from any of these to grow it forward, but I don't really know if I will get seeds before it's time to plant the garlic in our super short season. I have another bed in potatoes, but I think there may be better techniques for carbon conservation there too.

Another thing, my raised vegetable beds are pretty much 100% organic matter so that means they are already carbon rich, if I understand correctly there is not much capture capacity in that, compared to the mineral soils which are totally lacking in carbon here. That old red clay could take a lot. So that makes me wonder if I'm doing the right thing. Maybe I should be working to get carbon into the clay instead. Or maybe I should be strictly no till in the veggie beds. Still don't know how that will work for garlic. I could try tarp but I have to say the robins will not be pleased!
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File Type: jpg peas-barley-flax-strawberries.JPG (281.7 KB, 132 views)
File Type: jpg potatobed.JPG (294.3 KB, 132 views)
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Old August 10, 2019   #4
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According to what I read, about 10% of emissions is from food waste.
I looked for info on composting and it said that aerobic composting is the way to go, to minimize losses and of course, prepare some carbon rich material to go into the garden. So the old heaps that I make are good. Layers of straw keep the pile aerated.
I have potatoes growing in my piles this year and more from years past. I scraped up the residues from an old pile that had russetts in it a few years ago, to make a small bed. Before I had time to plant anything, they were up. They must be really deep in the ground to have turned into perennials. The compost pile from last winter and early spring, I tossed out some fingerlings that had sprouts about two feet long, and covered them over. Sure enough they survived after all. I've been piling them up with weeds or sods and I hope they're making spuds.
And now I have reds sprouting out of the current pile since the spring as well. These are maybe too late to make spuds, I hope not. In any case their roots are stabilizing whatever is breaking down I suppose. The reds that I planted were sprouty old supermarket things. Putting food waste to work on carbon capture.
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File Type: jpg russets-aug10.JPG (296.7 KB, 130 views)
File Type: jpg fingerling-volunteers.JPG (340.2 KB, 131 views)
File Type: jpg fingerlings-august10.JPG (293.3 KB, 129 views)
File Type: jpg potatocompost-3.JPG (319.2 KB, 128 views)
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Old August 10, 2019   #5
Worth1
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Bower I love your place and sometimes I wish I could live up there.

Another thing I do is to cook with cast iron most of the time.

My largest Dutch Oven has spent many a time on a charcoal fire frying fish and chicken.
Once it was heated up a few sticks every now and then was all it took to keep up frying temperatures.
This reduces energy use not only outside but inside on a stove.
Unlike thin aluminum and steel kettles that dissipate heat as fast as you can pour it on.

We did this when we didn't have air conditioning in the main house just the bedroom.
I also kept the neighborhood in hot peppers with no till.
About 100 pepper plants all together.
Left clippers on the porch so they could cut the peppers off and not tear up the plants.
Transplanted Cajuns do love their Tabasco peppers.
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Old August 14, 2019   #6
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Just read an interesting new report about compost. This 19 year study found that compost added carbon at a high rate per year, while cover crops did not. That is in an arid climate, not sure how different it would be for us. The key point seems to be that carbon can only be sequestered when the nutrient balance is right for the microbes that do the carbon processing.

https://phys.org/news/2019-08-compos...rbon-soil.html
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Old August 14, 2019   #7
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Neat article.

I like their lines "Carbon is like a second crop" and "We'd make more progress by incentivizing compost."
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Old August 15, 2019   #8
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I have an idea that I did not get a chance to try this year.

For hydroponics, the initial cost of the media can be high. I have read of using free sawdust from a sawmill as grow media. Currently there is a crisis of plastic piling up since China stopped buying recyclables. I have read a lot of bad things about where our recycled plastic is ending up, like SE Asia landfills, or even worse, being burned.

When processed, recycled plastic is often made into pellets or shredded plastic that I think has a lot of potential as grow media. I also saw a place selling old vinyl tents for cheap, some of them quite big. I think I could cut a strip of vinyl, sew it into a sock, fill it with plastic pellets, and grow in that. Strawberries are grown in Florida in perlite sacks like that, would be same concept, just drip nutrient solution through them. I would have to test for heavy metals and other contamination. Ideally though, it could be possible to turn trash into food. The cbd hemp I grow makes medicine, so turning trash into medicine wouldn't be so bad, either.
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Old August 15, 2019   #9
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Some elected person dont remember who was touting the greatness of oil and coal and how it would be as carbon neutral as renewable energy.
These people are shameless and the ones that have been in bed with big oil and coal for years fighting renewable energy.
It isn't 'to me, about carbon so much as we will run out of coal and oil.
We need a replacement as soon as possible.
We have been given the chance lets not p!ss it away.

.
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Old August 15, 2019   #10
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@jtjmartin, I've been thinking a lot about your hugelculture approach with clay. I want to diversify the forest here but the soil is not much - just a skim of clay among rocks and boulders. At the same time, there are all these different recommendations about the crops we grow - garlic and alliums they say don't compost it get rid of those tops. So I've been keeping my garlic waste out of the compost by tucking it away in the woods instead - now I'm realizing I need to do a better job of composting that and get serious about building some patches of soil where a different tree might grow. I picked out a spot this spring where I put some stuff from the fire pit, and some branches that I figure will break down pretty easily, and now I'm planning to build a compost using the garlic waste around that. I think coffee grounds and egg shells is what drives my everyday compost. Unless I have something special like manure or kelp. So I will see what I can get to rot around those branches and make it happen.
I remember discussions about how to dispose of tomato plants too, long while ago. A lot of people thought they should be burned or sent to the dump, but I always composted mine and even the plants that I stuck in the compost pile one year didn't seem to mind their own soil a bit. Tomato plants are a huge producer of biomass in the course of a season. They are worth growing for the compost alone!
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Old August 15, 2019   #11
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@Worth, your comments about the iron pans made me think of my old Caprice Classic - I had my routes planned so I could climb one hill on the gas and then coast and travel on momentum alone for the rest of the trip.
@Cole, I wonder if chemical ferts would react with plastics. It really is a shame the recycling progress has been crumbling. In the end, waste to energy is probably going to be what happens - hopefully with full carbon capture. There really isn't an effective way to clean and separate all the different plastics out there so that they can be reused.

And it's really hard to find alternatives to plastic for certain things. I told myself to cut down on plastic. I think a week went by when I had extra produce and no produce bags. Finally I went out and bought a box. I told a friend how I'd broken down and bought them, and she said, the 8 lb produce bag drives the economy. In other words, they don't have a substitute either, and there is no choice but to continue. Or waste food... oh wait, that's a problem too then.
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Old August 16, 2019   #12
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Recycling was a huge argument between my wife and I.
I was and still am against some of it and always will be.
She was all for it.
My point was and is don't buy stuff packaged in plastic like food snacks and so on.
The price is over the top expensive compared to making your own.
Many plastics can only be recycled once.
The blue shop towels can be washed.
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Old August 17, 2019   #13
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Now my comments about the iron pan and observations.

I will compare it to a train.
Heat is energy.
Momentum is energy.
Trains use far less fuel per ton than a truck or car due to momentum.

In a nut shell a heavy pan with more mass has more "momentum" than a light one made of aluminum.

It is also less susceptible/reactive to changes in heat/energy feed fluctuations than an aluminum one.
Just like letting off the throttle on a speed boat will slow it down fast where as an oil tanker takes forever to slow down with the engines ran to full stop.

we need to makeour soils like a cast iron skillet not an aluminum one.
The same with our homes too.

In reality our cars need to have a higher ballistic coefficient

With all the technology they have done much to decrease some pollution and very little to get better mileage.
They have put people in tiny little light weight cars that have one hell of a hard time pushing the air out of the way to keep at speed.

And most of all what I see here is too many people running around in these big 4 wheel drive 4 door giant wheeled Blacktop Queen trucks.
They never get off road and used for joy rides for the most part.
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Old October 13, 2019   #14
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Just to update on my cover crop/ rotation experiments. Rats stole every grain of my barley. I was working in town, when I went out one day it was all gone. Triticale was too late. It actually put out heads just when it was time to cut it down, oh well. Didn't get to see if rats or moose would be fond of it. Flax was also on the late side - too late really for a poor year. Not sure if it produced viable seed, there are some pods on it (cut, hanging). Hey even the peas were late but I don't complain about them do I? No indeed. Which means I got most of them.
The worst thing about these beds, they were hard and weedy. I had to pull and compost everything anyway, there was no other option for putting the garlic in. Deep digging to loosen the very compacted soil. But the opposite was true of my potato bed. Lovely and soft, loaded with worms! I trenched the potatoes with comfrey and a handful of chicken pellet, as well as the traditional 'dig up weeds, pile em upsidedown around the potaties' . My goodness there were more worms in that bed than my actual compost pile (which is pretty wormy!).
So... grains in the garden hasn't got a lot of raves for this year. Potatoes the old fashioned way is a soil conditioner I will certainly do again, in any weedy bed.
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Old October 13, 2019   #15
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I read this very interesting article, about the effect of different soil treatments on water infiltration.
https://phys.org/news/2019-09-soil-h...te-ground.html
An illustration comparing how various agricultural practices affect water's infiltration of soils, based on a meta-analysis of 89 studies across six continents. Credit: Lana Johnson / PLOS ONE


The most benefit to water retention was obtained where perennials/trees were planted near croplands.
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