With as much as 15% of greenhouse gas emissions currently coming from agricultural activity, we need to find ways to reduce and offset this by capturing carbon in the soil.
Regenerative farming is the use of farming and grazing practices that rebuild organic matter and restore degraded soil. On a large scale, this could reverse the effects of climate change by pulling excess carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it in the soil. Regenerative farming practices build fertile soils and nurture a healthy ecosystem. Some examples of common practices include managed grazing, composting, use of cover crops, and no-till systems.
Agriculture is a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. Atmospheric CO2 levels are at a record high, with some studies indicating that 10-12% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture. With large-scale plant and animal production, methane gas is released into the atmosphere at a far higher rate than it can be captured.
The Regenerative Farm Observatory and Network initiative arose out WNC’s partnership with Stonyfield Farm who put forward a vision to create a demonstration center for net zero carbon farming. The goal of the Regenerative Farm Observatory and Network is to become a global hub for regenerative agriculture research, demonstration, and education for farmers and the public about opportunities and practices to increase soil carbon capture and reduce GHG emissions from agriculture. To measure and share data, farmers from Maine, across the country and even around the globe will use FarmOS, a user-friendly, open source, record keeping, and decision support tool.
WNC’s Regenerative Farm Observatory will become a replicable model to demonstrate how agriculture can be a part of the solution for climate change, with a focus on building long term soil carbon storage. The open source tools and practices developed at WNC can serve as the foundation for agricultural GHG emissions reduction efforts.
To build the Regenerative Farm Network, hundreds of farms will be recruited from existing networks and supply chains to share regenerative farming practices and be trained to use FarmOS for data management, decision support, and monitoring of sustainability practices.