As one result of modern farming practices that strip organic matter from the ground, between 20 and 60% of the carbon once stored in the world’s agricultural soils has been lost. Putting it back – a process known as carbon farming or regenerative agriculture – has been hailed as a promising climate mitigation solution.
According to Rattan Lal, PhD, a leading expert on soil carbon, agricultural land could capture the equivalent of around 20% of annual global emissions. But Lal stresses that the benefits of carbon-rich soil go beyond climate – it’s also vital for food security, water quality, and biodiversity. Failure to replenish soil carbon is not an option, he said. “It’s not either/or. It’s a must.”
He believes that paying farmers to sequester carbon – specifically, about $16 per acre per year – is an important part of the solution. Some payment programs have been tried in the past, he said, but they haven’t been effective enough. “I do not think there is a real payment-of-ecosystem-services program anywhere in the…
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