The Soil Story
By Lauren Tucker and Aria Mclauchlan
The Soil Story is a snapshot look into the power of healthy soil that eats up carbon and get our climate back into balance.
It’s the account of nature’s best hidden innovation: soil.
Learn how we can “sequester” (store) carbon from the atmosphere, where it is not doing so much, and bring it back into the earth, where it belongs, through regenerative agriculture, composting, and other land management practices!
We have the power to stop and reverse climate change. Forget about expensive, untested geo-engineering solutions to block the sun’s rays or pervasive GMO crops to feed the world.
The true power lies in the most sophisticated, time-tested technology in the world: Nature. With our help, healthy soil and plants can stabilize our climate.
It’s important to first shift our perspective around carbon. It’s true we have too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. However, carbon isn’t the problem; it’s actually the cornerstone of a healthy ecosystem. Carbon is an essential element, the building block for all life. Everything alive is made of carbon.
The problem is that the carbon cycle is out of balance: we have removed too much carbon from beneath the earth’s surface and released it into the atmosphere. The good news? It’s possible to put the carbon back where it belongs – in the ground. In fact, carbon in the ground makes rich, healthy soil which is responsible for growing nutrient-dense food.
Remember photosynthesis from science class ? Plants inhale carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen. They use the carbon to build themselves, they also use some of that carbon to build healthy soil by feeding it (in the form of sugars) to bacteria and fungi that use it to build healthy soil (by forming carbon based aggregates) . The more plants and microorganisms are working in this symbiotic process, the more the soil has the ability to store the carbon that the plants are pulling in. Soil is the perfect carbon storage system that doesn’t require manufacturing or complex machinery. It simply requires that we manage our land and agricultural practices differently so that ecosystems are allowed to flourish and soil life to thrive.
Confused? Stop and take a few minutes to watch watch our short web video about this process.
So how do we shift our land management practices to create healthy soil, sequester carbon and balance our carbon cycle? We start farming carbon. By managing for healthy soil which sequesters carbon, the benefits are numerous: healthier food; reduced water usage; drought resilience; restored habitats; less pest problems; and increased yields of food crops.
Kiss the Ground, a nonprofit education organization out of California, is advocating for Regenerative Organic Agriculture, a term coined by Robert Rodale, son of the American organic pioneer J.I. Rodale. The term was meant to distinguish a kind of farming that goes beyond ‘sustainable’ – simply sustaining or maintaining our resources is not enough. “Regenerative organic agriculture improves the resources it uses, rather than destroying or depleting them.”
Regenerative organic agriculture embodies many of the approaches and principles of Permaculture’s Systems Thinking; it is also inclusive of farm system approaches like Agroecology, Ecological Agriculture, Sustainable Agriculture, Biological farming, Holistic Management, Organic 3.0, and Carbon Farming.
Healthy soil is gaining traction worldwide as an essential climate solution. At the UN Climate Summit, COP21, in Paris, France, in December 2015, a pioneering, international agreement was signed by 25 countries and over 200 non-profit organizations, committing to increase the organic carbon level of each country’s agricultural soils by 0.4% each year. The agreement, separate from the main COP 21 accord, is the first of its kind highlighting soil as a means to sequester carbon and balance our climate. It also positions our farmers as the pioneering climate heroes of our generation, by inextricably connecting climate with food security.
Groundbreaking moves can also be found here in the US. In Vermont, a bill was recently introduced into the Senate (Bill 159) that would introduce a state-level certification program under which farmers could have their land and farming methods certified by the state as Regenerative. In California, the Healthy Soils Initiative is another first of its kind state program that will allow for regenerative farming practices and/or farming practices that increase soil organic matter to access funding from the state’s large Cap and Trade budget. In 2016, twenty million dollars will be allocated to on-farm demonstration sites proving that regenerative practices are actually sequestering carbon into the soil.
With all this being said, the fact is we still urgently need to stop emitting greenhouse gases. Carbon sequestration through regenerative agriculture is one of the most hopeful solutions we have, but it is not a fix-all replacement for redesigning systems that desperately need to be rethought, like the fossil fuel industry.
We have the opportunity to create systems from a place of regeneration instead of degeneration. Right now our systems are created on the premise that resources are finite and money is made by destroying the environment to sell these “scarce” resources. Insted, what if we created systems from a place of regeneration? A system where production actually makes the environment more abundant and fertile than before. This is possible and only requires us to work with nature to assist it in its natural process. If nature is inherently regenerative, and we can be in production while making the world more abundant and fertile, shouldn’t we?
Kiss the Ground is spreading awareness, inspiration and hope for the regeneration of our planet and the possibility of solving the greatest challenge of our time – climate change. We promote regenerative living, regenerative agriculture and the restoration of soil worldwide. Our work is storytelling and education. Our vehicles are inspiring media, strong partnerships and change-making policy.
Join us as we ask one million people to pledge to become stewards of the land and take action toward a regenerative future.
For more information please visit: www.kisstheground.com or follow the conversation @kissthegroundca
“Regenerative Agriculture”: Definition by Kiss the Ground:
Agriculture that, while in production, utilizes and maximizes the soil system’s inherent and natural tendency of pulling carbon from the atmosphere (via photosynthesis) to regenerate itself; allowing for and resulting in increases rather than decreases in the following measurable areas: soil organic matter (soil carbon), soil water holding capacity, water infiltration rates, plant and soil organism biodiversity.
***Existing farming approaches that could use the word “Regenerative” or “Regenerative Agriculture” when referencing above measurable results (without undermining the name of their approach):
Here is a Spanish version of the video above:
AND if you’d like to download the annotated script, you can do so here.
These videos were made and produced by Kiss the Ground.