WATCH Growing Hope: Climate and Soils

The first session of NCAT’s third annual national conference, Growing Hope: Practical Tools for Our Changing Climate, focused on Climate and Soils.

The session opened with a special keynote address by Dr. Rattan Lal, 2020 World Food Prize Awardee and Distinguished Professor of Soil Science at Ohio State University.

Following Dr. Lal’s address, a panel discussion focused on Carbon Farm Planning.

Carbon is the principal energy pathway on farms and ranches. Meanwhile, harmful levels of carbon dioxide are building up in our atmosphere as a direct result of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. Through agricultural practices that maintain living roots, minimally disturb the soil, integrate agroforestry systems, utilize alternative soil amendments, and incorporate species diversity, agroecosystems can harness photosynthetic potential to capture atmospheric carbon and store it in above-ground biomass and below-ground healthy soils.

Carbon Farm Planning identifies all opportunities for enhanced carbon capture and storage on farms and ranches with concurrent co-benefits, including improved water holding capacity, biodiversity, and productivity.

The panel was moderated by Elise Haschke, NCAT’s Climate and Agriculture Program Manager. The panel included Dr. Jeff Creque of the Carbon Cycle Institute; Loren Poncia of Stemple Creek Ranch; Molly Taylor of PT Ranch; and Hulan Johnston of Johnston/Wills Heirs Farm.

The second session focuses on fertilizer reduction.

The use of synthetic fertilizer is one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture. This session focuses on how fertilizer reduction can be accomplished while maintaining productivity and profitability. Farmers and ranchers share the stories of how they have achieved zero synthetic fertilizer use on their operations — and the benefits they have seen from opting out of the synthetic input system.

The session begins with a presentation by Mark Schonbeck of the Organic Farming Research Foundation, followed by a panel discussion including Emily Oakley and Mike Appel of Three Springs Farm and Dave Scott of Montana Highland Lamb.

NCAT Agriculture Specialist Lee Rinehart moderates the session.