Grass, Soil, Hope: A Journey Through Carbon Country looks at a series of projects and techniques that are capturing carbon from the atmosphere and sequestering it. It contains a really good explanation of carbon cycles, both globally, and in the soil. It is more than just a collection of potential solutions, however, as it tells the story of the author's own journey. He visited each of the projects described and tells stories of the people that he met. Bits of his own philosophy come through in the book as well. His observation that "Carbon is Key: We don't have to invent anything, and it's mostly low-tech" and a quote from a soil scientist who says that "the formation of topsoil can be breath-takingly rapid once the biological dots have been connected" really sum up the theme of the book.
The stops on his journey through carbon country are many and varied. Some are relatively well known, such as increasing carbon in pasture by cell grazing/mob stocking, but other techniques such as creating wetlands, and repairing riparian buffer zones were fascinating and new to me. With examples ranging from urban agriculture and multi-species cover cropping, through to habitat creation by beavers, there is plenty to read about, lots to learn, and much to be hopeful for.
One thing that made me think hard was the observation by a scientist that farmers and growers are way ahead of the scientists in this field. Another was the way that once scientists became involved, it was easier to measure and quantify the changes in soil carbon levels. Perhaps it is this 'edge' between practice and science, practitioner and academic, that will provide the impetus to take some of these techniques further into the mainstream. Meanwhile, this book provides plenty of reason to be optimistic.
Courtney White, author of Grass, Soil, Hope will be attending the Savory Institute International Conference in London on 1st-2nd August 2014. Also speaking at the event will be Allan Savory, Joel Salatin, Dareen Doherty and many more experts is regenerative agriculture, soil, carbon sequestering and more. For more information click HERE.
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