HOW REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE CAN CREATE CARBON SINKS
Along with reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, it is imperative to protect and preserve the nature-based processes and ecosystems that hugely contribute to carbon sequestration. Many of our harmful environmental practices not only cause massive amounts of carbon dioxide emissions, but also destroy natural carbon sinks. Carbon sinks are reservoirs that absorb more carbon than they emit into the atmosphere. When most people think of carbon sinks, they typically picture expansive ecosystems like forests and the ocean. However, there is tremendous potential for the agricultural industry to create and preserve carbon sinks on a mass scale by utilizing regenerative agriculture.
Regenerative agriculture is not only a powerful carbon sequestration tool, but also an alternative to industrial agriculture. The use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers causes pollution and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions; tillage depletes soil and releases carbon dioxide; and other practices cause biodiversity loss, erosion, and desertification. Regenerative agriculture, on the other hand, not only relies on eco-friendly alternatives to these harmful procedures, but also actively serves as a carbon sink.
By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region - Flickr: Coffee farm in Colombia
By employing no-till cultivation, utilizing cover crops and crop rotation, implementing planned grazing, and eliminating the use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides, regenerative methods keep carbon in the ground and allow it to build over time. This carbon feeds and improves the health of plants grown in the soil where it is stored, and it is kept from being released into the atmosphere. Additional methods such as agroforestry can heighten levels of carbon being sequestered by incorporating tree conservation into agriculture, which also enriches the soil and betters the air and water quality in the area. Farmers who use regenerative agriculture practices are already seeing rising carbon levels in their soil and healthier crops, foreshadowing the effectiveness and magnitude of this solution if it were applied to the agricultural industry at a larger scale. In fact, a 2014 study by the Rodale Institute predicts that we could sequester more than 100% of annual CO2 emissions with a switch to regenerative agriculture.
Albo Climate is working on a unique tool for measuring the success of carbon sequestration efforts such as regenerative agriculture. By applying AI to satellite imagery, we are able to quantify and monitor the amount of carbon being removed from the atmosphere as a result of different nature-based projects. Our technology makes it possible for corporations to accurately and efficiently offset their emissions by investing in climate solutions proven to be effective mitigators of global warming.
Written by River Hayes, Research and Communications Intern at Albo Climate