Carbon Farming

Wild Willow Farm is excited to welcome you to our self-guided tour! Follow the signs around the farm and  learn about each landmark along the way. Thank you to local Chula Vista High School students for helping to create content for each QR code! 

Climate change is a serious issue and people want to know how to reduce their carbon footprint. Carbon dioxide is the most commonly produced greenhouse gas. It gets into the atmosphere in two ways, through natural activities, for example, animals exhaling carbon dioxide as a waste product, and through human activities such as emissions from energy production like burning coal or oil.

 

What is carbon sequestration?

 

A method of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with the goal of reducing global climate change is carbon sequestration. This is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide.

 

One way to sequester carbon is through regenerative farming. Another term used for regenerative farming is carbon farming, because farmers build organic matter back into the soil, storing more water and drawing more carbon out of the atmosphere. The National Academy of Sciences estimates that regenerative agriculture can sequester 250 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. Farmers do this by avoiding tilling, the turning of the soil, which releases carbon. Instead, they keep the soil covered with vegetation and natural materials through mulching, covering crops and pastures. Diversity, not mono crops, is an essential part of building healthy soil which in turn sequesters carbon.

 

Another way to store carbon dioxide is by preserving coastal wetlands. New research shows San Diego’s remaining coastal wetlands have a great ability to suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and bury it underground, which is the process known as carbon sequestration. For example, the initial results of a study by Patti Lieberg-Clark, a former student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and biological oceanographer Matt Costa show the top meter of mud in the 40-acre Kendall-Frost marsh contains about 1,052 metric tons of carbon. Unfortunately, less than one percent of Mission Bay’s 4,000 acres of wetland remain.  The city of San Diego emitted 9.6 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses in 2019. This could be solved by leaving marshlands alone. A marsh ecosystem can bury carbon forever at a rate of 15 metric tons per year.

 

In California, carbon is tradable on its cap-and-trade marketplace where the state sets a limit on emissions and industries can buy credits, allowing those industries to pollute more if they purchase extra credits. A conservation project, like a marsh restoration, which takes carbon out of the atmosphere, could sell its ecosystem benefits as carbon credits.

 

Members of the University of California Reserve System and the San Diego Audubon Society urged the city to capture the value of the marsh under its Climate Action Plan. The group wrote in a letter to the city, “Coastal vegetated ecosystems, including salt marshes and seagrass beds, sequester carbon more rapidly than most other ecosystems on earth, and far more than any other found in the San Diego region. Do not fail to take advantage of this opportunity in setting climate action goals for the coming years.”

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