Basic gist of the article: "of the 5 major pools of carbon storage on the planet, 4 are used up. Only soil is left". Nice to see regen ag getting coverage in the NYT.
Absolutely- and great to see some exploration of raising livestock as one way carbon can be sequestered instead of the consistent and blanket demonization of that sector we see in mainstream media these days: "Even cattle, usually considered climate change culprits because they belch at least 25 gallons of methane a day, are being studied as a potential part of the climate change solution because of their role in naturally fertilizing soil and cycling nutrients."
Now we just need them to say that its not just academics measuring this - startups are on it too.
Absolutely - there are a couple of grazing apps that can help on the livestock front like Maia, but I'm surprised not to have seen more soil carbon sensors that farmers could ideally use to get credits for regen ag or other beneficial/sustainable farming practices. Anyone know of any? Would provide a great basis for a solid policy in the farm bill!
We are at PastureMap! We've partnered with the USDA and conservation organizations to integrate soil carbon data from ranches across CA in 2018. We're also partnered with The Perennial, a climate focused restaurant in SF, on an initiative led by famous chefs (Anthony Myint, Corey Lee, Dan Barber, Yotam Ottolenghi among them) to source carbon friendly beef.
Sensing soil carbon isn’t easy, unfortunately there’s no real hardware that we can employ to give us an instant, accurate picture on Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) changes yet. Instead estimating SOC on a broad scale right now relies on soil testing. There is some effort going into estimating SOC based on NDVI imagery, and the University of Sydney, Australia, are some of the leaders in the space (we’ve been very interested in their research at FarmLab). It will happen over the next few years though, and it looks as though other great startups like PastureMap are already leading the charge when it comes to soil carbon management.
Thanks @farmlabsam. It's indeed a toughie. We've been canvassing the world for SOC sensors too, but most of the data is indeed still coming from soil tests. There is a team out of Yale trying out a handheld soil carbon sensor at TK Ranch here, which looks promising.
It seems like you would be able to use some kind of conductive sensor. I'd expect that different carbon levels should have different capacitance.
Ppl are looking into conductive sensors (soil moisture is a factor from what I understand), spectroscopy, literally burning up tiny bits of soil to measure carbon burned, energy intensive, spectrometry using reflectance - which is what this yale group is doing. http://highplainsstewardship.com/scilss-soil-carbon-integrated-landscape-sampling-system/
What is the state of the reflectance spectrometry sensors? I've heard that they're out there, but do they work? I imagine they're not production ready, otherwise we'd see huge demand for them. Also on the agroforestry side, I recall imagery approaches to biomass estimates for aboveground soil carbon.
Spectroscopy is almost there. The technology basically uses infrared to record a ‘fingerprint’ of the soil it’s looking at. However this fingerprint needs to be compared to an accurate database of similar soil types that have been measured already using physical samples. Some countries have great databases already, and there are a few starting up here in Australia. There is some other funky tech being worked on that uses radioscopy. I don’t know much about it but will share something if I find out more.