The Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. NOFA/Mass welcomes everyone who cares about food, where it comes from and how it’s grown

Growing Organically Since 1982

Soil Carbon Restoration

Learn what farming methods will return carbon to the soil -- and keep it there -- for healthier crops, more resilient farms, and less extreme weather.


New! Take part in new "Carbon Restoration Practices" email list!
 
Join the conversation about how to restore carbon into our farms, gardens and landscapes.  The email list is easy to use. You can either sign up through Google Groups (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/nofa-soil-carbon) or email nofa-soil-carbon+subscribe@googlegroups.com.
(You don't have to have a Google Account to sign up.) 

Take our Carbon Farming Survey
We are compiling a database about the growing practices of anyone who manages land -- farmers, gardeners, homeowners, professionals, etc. -- in the northeast. Answer our nine questions about your practices, learning interests, and willingness to be part of research trials measuring carbon building results. 

 

Much discussion in scientific and governmental circles has focused on how to deal with greenhouse gas emissions and the resulting weather extremes they have created. 

Rising AcresMost analysts believe we must stop burning fossil fuels to prevent further increases in atmospheric carbon. We must also find ways to remove carbon already in the air if we want to lessen further weather crises and the associated human tragedies, economic disruption and social conflict that they bring.

But where can we put that carbon once it is removed from the air? There is only one practical approach -- to put it back where it belongs, in the soil. Fortunately, this is not an expensive process. But it will take large numbers of people agreeing to participate.

Since few people will change what they are doing without compelling reasons and models, we have written this short paper. Within you will find explanations for the problems of carbon dioxide buildup and climate change, details on how carbon can be taken out of the atmosphere and restored to the soil, as well as the advantages that can come to farmers and consumers from growing in carbon-rich soils.

Read our Soil Carbon Restoration white paper.

How can you take action in your own life to restore carbon to the soil and help rebuild the marvelous system that nature has put in place to renew our atmosphere?

Below are just a few of meaningful action steps for farmers, gardeners and homeowners, landscape managers, consumers and businesses, activists and educators, and policy makers to take. We will be editing and building on this list regularly, so check back often.


Farmers

  • Plant nitrogen fixing cover crops and living row paths.
  • Incorporate no-till or shallow till practices.
  • Recycle biomass with livestock (grazers, browsers, compost to poultry).
  • Replace pesticides and fungicides with diverse beneficial organisms.
  • Incorporate perennials or pasture cropping into your farm plan.

Gardener/Homeowner

  • Plant your lawn with diverse species, including deep rooted grasses and nitrogen fixing species like clover.
  • Mow, cut back, and/or heavily mulch over weeds instead of pulling.
  • Incorporate multi-layer, perennial, diverse plantings into your yard.
  • Compost, rather than burn, your yard waste.
  • Plant nitrogen fixing cover crops and living row paths.

Landscape Manager

  • Emphasize perennials in plantings and fill in gaps with annuals.
  • Minimize the use of pavement and unproductive mulch.
  • Incorporate nitrogen fixing trees and perennials into the landscape.
  • Maintain diverse forested buffers and perimeters (can be productive).
  • Mow, cut back, and/or heavily mulch over weeds instead of pulling.

Consumer, Investor, Funder or Business

  • Purchase food from farmers that use regenerative and organic practices.
  • Stop buying from/supporting large scale, conventionally grown soy, corn, canola and cotton products which use synthetic nitrogen and persistent herbicides, contributing to massive soil loss every year.
  • Compost your kitchen waste.
  • Consume only 100% grass-fed and pasture raised meats, looking for farmers and ranchers prioritizing soil building.
  • Invest your food dollars in local farmers building soil, invest your climate action donations and advocacy into reforestation and reversing desertification (rehydrating the land) locally and globally.

Activist/Educator

  • Advocate against factory animal operations and for properly managed grass and pasture based farming.
  • Support replanting your local environment, support diverse meadows and deep rooted grass landscapes
  • Get to know diverse plants and biodiverse ecosystems in your region.
  • Invest your climate action donations and advocacy into reforestation and reversing desertification (rehydrating the land) locally and globally.
  • Study soil microbe biodiversity and support composting everywhere.

Policy Maker

  • Rule out synthetic nitrogen fertilizers on athletic fields, institutional and public park lands.
  • Prioritize climate funding for carbon farmers and ecosystem restoration.
  • Align local building codes with biodiversity and habitat regeneration and protection.
  • Emphasize development projects that regenerate, preserve, and do not destroy soil ecosystems.
  • Prioritize green infrastructure for coastal and inland flood management.

Additional Resources

Forms