Carbon sequestration was a key topic of the HMI-sponsored Sunnybrae Acres Open Gate held on July 15th near Wawota, Saskatchewan, Canada. The Carlyle Observer carried this recent article about the event. Neil and Barbara Dennis are the owners and managers of Sunnybrae Acres. Neil’s grandfather homesteaded the area in 1900. But, at one point Neil was struggling financially to keep the farm after he took it over.
He learned about Holistic Management and began experimenting with the process, figuring out along the way how to earn $90/hour by moving cattle and increasing their weight gain. He also learned how to improve soil health with pushing stock density as much as 1 million pounds of cattle per acre. These efforts have paid off as he now has a diversity of 40 plants in his pastures where he used to have only one type of plant, crested wheat.
He has also increased his sequestering, or storage, of carbon in the soil because of his efforts. Those management changes also increased the soil’s ability to store more water.
Holistic Management Certified Educator Blain Hjertaas led the Open Gate Field Day and helped people understand how this kind of land management can improve the health of the land in a way that is good for the agricultural producer and the consumer/citizens that rely on these working landscapes to provide ecosystem services like carbon sequestration and improved water quality. Nearly 40 people were at the event to learn as well.
Research from the Soil Carbon Coalition was presented at the event. The Coalition is an organization that is measuring the soil carbon of various farms and ranches to show how increased soil carbon means less carbon in the atmosphere. Blain’s ranch near Redvers is a part of that study. The study showed that for every kilogram of greenhouse gas emissions that resulted from their farming practices, the Hjertaas family sequestered 17 kilograms.
Another Holistic Management Certified Educator, Ralph Corcoran, was also part of the study and on his farm near Langbank, he is sequestering 39 kilograms for every kilogram emitted.
This kind of cutting edge agriculture holds great promise to improve land productivity and address pressing environmental issues. To learn more about the exciting promise of improving soil health and sequestering carbon, visit HMI’s Soil & Conservation page.