Learn about the carbon cycle
Agriculture is currently responsible for up to 30% of current greenhouse gas emissions and is responsible for continued damage to essential ecosystems. Humans are now using up to 50% of the earth’s surface to produce crops and raise livestock. Without rapid and effective intervention, poor agricultural practices will decimate what is left of our most important ecosystems, leaving the human race with bleak prospects. Fortunately, many practitioners have demonstrated that ecological and regenerative agricultural techniques are capable of feeding the world’s population, sequestering excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reducing methane and nitrous oxide emissions, and improving water quality. In short, the worst effects of climate change can be avoided if farmers and land stewards widely adopt regenerative agricultural practices.
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The carbon cycle is a set of chemical and biological reactions and physical processes that move carbon throughout the planet, from the air, to the oceans, to rocks; from plants, to animals, to microorganisms, and back to the air. There are many pathways by which carbon can flow from one form to another, regulated by various natural processes and mechanisms. In the absence of human intervention, nature is the chief regulator of the carbon cycle.
Human industry, however, has a profound influence on the carbon cycle. Through the drilling and burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and other means, we have increased the flow of carbon from the land to the air, overwhelming the atmosphere with greenhouse gases. With the carbon scale tipped toward the atmosphere, temperatures are increasing, sea-levels are rising, and weather events are becoming more extreme. If we allow nature to take back control of the carbon cycle, perhaps we can begin to even out the scale.
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We’re challenging ourselves to sequester 5 metric tons of Carbon per acre from the atmosphere by 2025. That is the equivalent of an increase in average Soil Organic Matter (SOM) of just 1% down to 1 meter of soil. Here is how we’re doing!
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Regenerative agriculture is based on the ecological principles of building and holding stores of carbon in the soil. Soil carbon captures vital nutrients within the soil, and supports diverse populations of microorganisms responsible for the release and recycling of these nutrients. Carbon also improves the ability of the soil to capture and hold water.
Soil carbon is the key ingredient in creating resilience across an agricultural landscape. Better water and nutrient cycling means less dependence on outside inputs, and less cost associated with improving a farm’s productivity. Beyond the benefits to farmers, the more carbon there is in the soil, the less there is in the atmosphere. Implemented on a global scale, regenerative agriculture has the potential to reverse climate change, which will affect the entire planet.
Hudson Carbon monitors and researches the impacts of specific agricultural practices and crop rotations on the carbon, water and nitrogen cycles with our partner farms in New York’s Hudson Valley. In partnership with the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, Hudson Carbon has designed and implemented one of the most detailed studies of the ecological impacts of regenerative agriculture to date.
At Hudson Carbon, we are working towards developing a greater understanding of how farm management affects the carbon cycle within an agricultural ecosystem. With this greater understanding, we can then offer farmers and land managers sound data that demonstrates the long-term efficacy of different practices to build and sequester carbon in the soil. The adoption of soil-carbon-friendly practices will not only build fertility long-term, but will allow farmers and land managers to demonstrate key, quantifiable ecosystem services that their management practices can provide.
At Hudson Carbon, we have set out to observe and measure the flow of carbon through an agricultural ecosystem, and measure the change in soil carbon content over time, throughout the growing season, from year to year. We have designed sampling and testing protocols to give us multiple snapshots, throughout the growing season, of carbon content at key points within the cycle: in the soil, in crops, and in the ambient air. Collating this data with detailed farming records, we can then understand the effects of agricultural management on the carbon cycle.
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Hudson Carbon works to demonstrate the powerful role of regenerative agricultural practices in reviving ecosystems and mitigating the effects of climate change.
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