Blame not the cow but her management

New grazing management techniques are showing that grass fed cattle can be carbon negative.
That soils are the largest terrestrial carbon sink, provides farmers with an opportunity, to regenerate soil organic carbon which has the co-benefit of being correlated with profitability.
Pastures occupy 40% of the earth’s terrestrial surface, and owing to their growth habit, root architecture and surface coverage, are capable of sequestering huge amounts of carbon annually. It has been found that to optimize this process bio-mimicry helps. As with the Serengeti migration, where vast herds move rapidly through the grasslands, cattle should be managed to provide a high density, short duration impact on grazing but no long-term damage. The resulting non-selective grazing stimulates shoot and root growth starting a beneficial cycle with symbiotic soil microorganisms building soil organic carbon, water holding capacity, fertility, sustainability, and importantly, sequestering carbon. Good pasture managers grow roots.
Nearly half of Africa is classed as grassland, much of it desertifying, which provides a unique opportunity to benefit a vulnerable environment and population. Smallholders livelihoods and culture are closely woven with their cattle. Their wealth is tied up in the capital value of their herds.
This SIP proposes that:
• Smallholders receive a monthly rental for their cattle
• Cattle managed as massed migrating herds on community grazing lands
• Cattle rents covered by income from the carbon market based on increases in soil carbon.
• Scalable to millions of hectares
Benefits
• Cheap and quick
• Carbon sequestration (starts slowly in warm dry circumstances)
• Reverse desertification
• Restore soil health and biodiversity
• Provide smallholders with regular and badly needed cash “dividends” otherwise tied up in the capital value of their livestock.
• Free up young herd boys and girls to go to school
• Employment

 

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Feedback Dynamics

 

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Author

Bob Fraser-Mackenzie

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