The Grassroots Carbon team was extremely excited to co-sponsor a 3 part webinar series with Global Affairs Associates, LLC. With panelists from Marathon Oil, Shopify, BCarbon, & participating ranches.
Below is the first webinar in our series “Land Stewardship as a Decarbonization Solution.” along with a transcript of our conversations. Be on the lookout next week as we publish the second recording!
Good morning everyone my name is Caitlin Allen I’m President and CEO of Global Affairs Associates. We’re a boutique sustainability and ESG consulting firm based in Houston Texas and we’re very proud to to co-sponsor this series on soil carbon conversations with our co-sponsor Grassroots Carbon. I’m going to start with just quickly introducing our panelists and then we’re going to get right to it. It’s only 45 minutes today and we want to get in as much time with them as possible so with no further ado I’d like to introduce Deborah Clark who’s a regenerative rancher Deborah and her husband are managing the Birdwell Clark Ranch in Texas in a regenerative way and have been doing so for over 16 years they’ve created tremendous change in their land and are featured in one of Peter Byck’s Soil Carbon Cowboy movies called Herd Impact which we highly recommend second we have professor Richard Teague who’s a range ecology expert. Professor Teague is one of the top grazing and rangeland scientists and ecologists in the world he has studied grazing practices for many decades and has many scientific publications as well as having spoken all over the world. Professor Teague works to understand grazing practices to help design the field soil sampling efforts and contributes to data analysis and collecting insights on this important topic and finally, we have Jeff Goodwin who’s a regenerative rancher and also the conservation stewardship lead at Noble Research Institute. Jeff has had a long career in helping other ranchers to improve their land management, he held several positions as rangeland management specialists for the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). During goodwin’s 14-year career with NRCS he worked in multiple locations in Texas as a rangeland management specialist helping producers and landowners meet their management objectives so thank you to all three of you for being here we’re so pleased to have you talk about this important topic let’s get right into it. So welcome Debra, Jeff, and Richard to the panel um we’re going to start with getting down into the basics so we’ve said regenerative ranching regenerative grazing a couple of times already in the bios what is regenerative grazing? Richard oh you’re on mute there you go.
Um it’s no secret that a lot of the world’s grazing and cropping lands have been degraded due to the way we’ve been managing them and a lot of people talk about sustainable but there’s no use in sustaining something that’s degraded so we’ve been looking for ranchers
right around North America who have actually managed to improve their soil health and improve their whole ecosystem function as the base for improving their profitability and uh they are. The good news is that there are people many people right around the nation who have been doing it extremely well and we’re busy studying them with a team of 20 odd scientists um to show what they have achieved and how they have achieved it in order to help others progress and receive the benefits from it.
Thank you, Richard and Jeff how would you explain regenerative grazing you’ve been helping ranchers and farmers do this for many many years um what would be your sort of one-minute explanation of regenerative grazing?
I appreciate the question you know when we think about regenerative grazing it’s really about some foundational principles it’s about following some of these principles that help us build soil health and help us restore ecosystem function and there’s a lot of different ways that we can do that it. Largely starts with developing a solid plan um and really it’s I there’s this common sort of I can’t I don’t remember who to attribute it to but it’s this idea of that it’s the cow not the how or it’s the how not the cow excuse me and so it’s really about how we apply the grazing management and it’s really focused on building rest into these systems providing the rest for those plants to fully recover before we graze them again uh balancing the timing intensity frequency and duration of the grazing event but really focusing around uh allowing that plant to fully recover. Which has all these other cascading benefits that are associated with it so in a one-minute system I would say that’s probably as close asIcan get it.
Great thank you Jeff and just to clarify too so for those that are new to the concept of regenerative grazing what’s the difference between regenerative grazing and say conventional methods?
That’s for you Jeff
Sorry I didn’t know who that was for um you know conventional uh we would commonly think of conventional set or uh were or we’ve got the same number of cattle in every pasture for longer periods of time there is no rotation there’s no there’s very little plant recovery. Um when we look at these systems we you know you hear this common term that plants get overgrazed not pastures and that’s truly correct and a lot of these set stock systems we’ve got overgrazed and under grazed plants in the same pasture very close to one another so it’s about getting better distribution better utilization of the pastures and we can do that through a number of different ways. To managing rest and managing for the grazing impact.
Interesting okay thank you Jeff let me switch over to Debra and since you have been practicing
regenerative grazing at your ranch for a number of years what does the concept mean to you and how does it how do you apply it uh on your own ranch?
You know first of all there it is you know we’ve alluded to there’s no one size fits all and regenerative ag is going to be practiced interpreted and practiced differently according to the environment you’re in. The livestock you’re using on the ground covers the agricultural practices that you have. For us we came to this beautiful piece of land in North Central Texas and it was a great ranch to begin with but what we saw when we got here. I used the we broadly because most of this was in my husband’s head and I only learned what we were doing once we got here. But it was a beautiful piece of land of tall native prairie grass in this part of North Central Texas but there were a lot of things that were amiss about it due to the fact that it
had been grazed conventionally for decades and decades. There was bare ground there was a
huge monoculture. Water resources were few and far between and when we started working at this we began with stalkers. My husband Emery Birdwell is just a stalker man he has that kind of
Personality and we used stalkers because they allowed us uh to be flexible and adaptable and
we knew that with stalkers we could get the greatest amount of impact from being able to run a large herd and manage them through the movement of the gate. And make the biggest impact on the land in a shorter
amount of time than we could if we had a cow calf operation. And I can go on in that but that’s
that’s generally how we did it. We started we have always been in stalkers we started with
three herds and we moved to one when we started in a drought time that
forced us to do that and the changes and the benefits we’ve seen as a result of that one herd
that animal impact that rests that Jeff talked about. That recovery period we’ve seen dynamic changes on the landscape. Tell us a little bit more about what have those benefits been for you guys personally at your
Ranch? When you say dynamic changes on the landscape what does that mean to a layperson?
Okay so it you know in practical terms we’ve gone from about 25% bare ground to 5% bare ground.
Wow that’s important if you’re a grass man or a grass woman and you’re focusing on forage that’s an important change. It’s important for a lot of reasons one is that now we’re able to capture water let this rainfall event that we’ve had. Last night rather than having immense
runoff from the ranch we’re able to capture that water have it in field trade and benefit
Both. They benefit the whole ecosystem around water we’ve also seen as I mentioned this a great increase in diversity of plants we’ve gone from this monoculture of little bluestem to having a wider range of all the prairie grasses. Eastern grass came back to the ranch
a wide diversity of birds you know there. We could go on about some of those
ecological benefits but there’s also the cost issue of practicing this way this type of regenerative ag. We’re able to do so with lower input costs we don’t use fertilizer we use no insecticides
pesticides anything with the side we don’t use any of that. We don’t feed our cattle hay so also do it through lower uh labor cost as well so does that translate to an impact on profitability.
I like to say I don’t want to promise anybody anything right but in your experience, it leads to an opportunity for greater profitability?
It leads to that opportunity for greater profitability yes.
Interesting we did have a question come through what are stalkers?
Uh stalkers are our cattle that we’re not a cow-calf operation we don’t breed and we don’t
Have cattle born here so we get stalkers in. Um at about what six to nine months of age and take them uh keep them here for about a year and uh nine months and keep them here
and we sell them. So stalkers could be heifers they can be heifers or they can be steers but they’re not baby calves and they’re not mama cows.
Thank you for that Debra.
Let’s talk a little bit more about the benefits really briefly and then we’re
we’re going to make the link um to climate change and still carbon storage.
So just really quickly I wanted to give Jeff and Richard an opportunity to weigh in on additional benefits or anything else you wanted to add to what the benefits to the actual ranchers are from regenerative grazing and to the land of course.
Yeah just real quick I mean that was exactly right it’s contextual it um when we start to look at the benefits could be a little bit different for each individual operation each of an individual person um where you are in the country your context your economic context your
ecological context and your social context. One of the things I maybe want to expound on a little bit she mentioned the labor that’s a big misconception with some of this uh ranching um some of the approach to this is that it takes so much more labor and time it literally took us seven minutes the other day to pick up a little bit of polywire move the cows and we were done. You’re in your cattle every day you see them um it’s they’re all together typically from for the most part um so from a time and a labor perspective you really have more time to do things because you’re not doing all the other things you used to be doing. You’re focusing on the grazing and you’re focusing on what’s important and so and so that’s a big key thing that is a potential barrier for some people is that misconception. There’s a tremendous amount of laundry list of ecological benefits I’ll maybe let Dr. Teague speak to those but there are many excellent and um yes Richard if there’s anything you’d like to add to that please feel free but I’d like to put the question to you first to give us that link so what is this link between regenerative grazing and soil carbon storage what does that really mean?
Okay most conventional ranchers are in a situation due to their past management where they have more bare ground than they would like which causes a lot of runoff they have eaten out all your palatable and very productive species like big bluestem and this neck of the woods. Um and they left with less productive species and because they’re grazing all the time their rooting depth of any plants that remain is greatly reduced so come droughts they’re much more affected by those droughts so what you do with regenerative grazing is you have enough paddocks with one or very few herds of cattle you move the animals through the paddocks, you graze for one
to three odd days. In dry areas will be a little bit longer than that and then you give it a recovery
that allows them to recover and build their routing depth and get growth so what those things do in the meantime is with regenerative grazing you get a greater number of days when there’s a lot of green leaf on the pasture. More so than other grazing and that means you are photosynthesizing and capturing energy that the plants put down into the roots to feed the microbes the fungi and the microbes in the soil are the ones that get more food nutrients and water for the plants than they would otherwise be able to get. Particularly fungi they can get four to five times as much nutrients available and send it back to the plants and they allow deeper rooting as a consequence. You also with high-density grazing you’re grazing with a large herd and moving it frequently you increase the nutrient cycling the cows eat a certain amount and 80
percent of what they eat comes out the back end and speeds up the amount of available
nutrition so you’ve got more water getting into the ground. It’s staying there for longer and your
nutrient cycling uh is greatly enhanced so everything is working better for the plants that are there particularly those that would be overgrazed they can then recover they’re usually taller
and much more productive so you jump up all the productivity and feeding carbon into the soil and the higher the carbon in the soil the higher the moisture running into the soil. The amount that stays there available to the plants and the amount of fertility increases enormously all of those things just jump up your productivity and for the same number of inputs you can get a higher productivity and saleable product at the end.
Thank you for that Richard and you know I just want to reflect back. I hope I understood this properly but what we’re talking about is when you regenerate or allow a system to rest and regenerate by using paddocks and rotating the grazing cycle um you allow those plants to grow longer roots and then with more you know the more photosynthesis that happens the more carbon goes down out of the air and into the soil and then goes deeper into the ground with the and that’s why the root length matters, is that right did I get that okay?
Okay okay so help us make that full length right so the regenerative grazing methodology allows plants to grow deeper roots and longer better more green etc and sequester more carbon. How does that work then beyond is there any other trick say beyond how I tried to summarize it the best of my ability?
No the soil carbon is very important because water molecules and the um the nutrients in the soil actually attach themselves to the soil and to the soil carbon but for a given size of soil particle or carbon particle the carbon can hold six to eight times more on it without it running through the system so what more readily available and greater storage um and that that results in benefits for the farmer. But also you’ve got much better control on what’s happening with your water less runoff less erosion and cleaner water and a steadier supply of water through the river systems to the urban areas so it’s just a win-win for everybody and I assume there must be a way to measure this is this correct or is it we kind of just going on assumptions that we know? You know we know plants store carbon I mean how do we know that this is really you know truly a potential climate solution? Now this has been measured in a lot of detail we’ve just come out to the paper now from work that we’ve done across the Mississippi with the Carbon Cowboy team and sam mosey was the young lady who did the work and the regenerative grazing people they didn’t use fertilizers all pesticides or just minimal amounts of them compared to the neighbor who was using fertilizers and monocultures and on the regenerative side there was 13% more carbon added in in the time period that we studied. Seven years and at the same time even without adding the fertilizers the nitrogen levels were higher on the regenerative side just because everything we did removed things that damaged the soil microbes and made the plants function in a way that looked after the soil microbes better so hence the greater amount of carbon that depth all the way down as deep as we measured it to a meter deep and the amount of nitrogen available to the plants was there so that that benefits you straight away decreasing your costs and increasing your productivity which increased quite a lot but also from the urban person downstream from that because you’ve got biologically fixed carbon and nitrogen and phosphate made available by biology. You don’t get the huge amounts of nutrients getting into the water system and causing eutrophication and decreasing the quality of the water so and also the biodiversity the birds and soil microbes increased enormously uh under the regenerative grazing.
Thank you for that explanation so there you can measure in the soil the amount of carbon stored on one side versus another so yes okay and they’re different forms of carbon too and the good news with this is the majority of the carbon being fixed or stored that stays in the ground for thousands of years that’s really important because there’s very short-term additions of carbon there’s medium-term additions and there’s the long-term stuff most of the stuff that we measured was long-term stuff and Colorado State is one of the world’s leaders in understanding and measuring all these things and they were very agreeably surprised with how good the regenerative grazing was working in terms of the carbon.
Interesting so we do have a demonstrable carbon storage um say benefit related to regenerative grazing. I want to kind of turn it back around and think about challenges so we know there’s a lot of interest in soil carbon storage as a climate solution but um we also heard the term carbon wild west. So a you know variety of standards and then of course because we don’t have say a standardized market yet for carbon as an asset globally um you know there are obviously challenges with this so um let’s talk real quickly about um maybe put this to Debra first. So what do you value about being paid for soil carbon storage but also what concerns you?
Does Deborah or Jeff want to jump in on that first?
I’ll jump in there I’m just tickled pink that at the age of 70 that we’re going to get paid for something that we’ve been doing and that that we have now research is showing it’s benefiting us as a globe. It’s and I don’t mean to say tickled to death to be lighthearted about that I just mean it is so satisfying to know that something that we’ve been working on this particular ranch for 16 17 years has benefit far beyond the value of a stalker and so there is the monetary side of that will help us facilitate the transition of this ranch to the next generation and give them the opportunity to make a living off of what we do on a daily basis. So for me that’s really part of the value is to be paid for something that we’ve been doing and that it has benefit beyond this ranch.
Thank you Debra, Jeff would you like to weigh in and what do you value and any concerns you might have about it?
Sure right and I might just maybe add on just a little bit to what Dr. Teague was talking about as we speak about opportunity um and as a climate solution um it’s often interesting when we start talking about carbon where people think carbon is on the planet. I mean so let’s exclude the oceans let’s talk about the terrestrial planet and so when we think often about carbon we think about carbon dioxide right. So uh carbon in the atmosphere well there’s about 580 billion tons of carbon in the atmosphere there’s about 750 give or take billion tons of carbon in the terrestrial vegetation so rainforest grasslands there’s 1500 billion tons of carbon in the top three feet of the soil’s surface. If you go down to two meters there’s 2500 billion tons and so and so where is our greatest impact as producers in the top three feet of soil in the land. So we have a tremendous opportunity here and there’s conservative estimates that that say up to 40% of that carbon has been lost over time due to management and so we have a tremendous opportunity to create sinks here and rebuild the soil carbon back to some of those prior estimates. As far as getting paid for ecosystem services I think there’s a number of opportunities there. I really think we need to start looking at having the ability. I guess carbon’s always the elephant in the room because it ties back to some to some of our other um you know sustainability goals greenhouse gas emissions things of that nature but there’s other ecosystem services that ranchers are providing. Biodiversity clean water having the ability to potentially stack those services and provide a stacked solution back to producers I think is a key benefit potential moving forward and I think maybe some challenges uh we can measure soil carbon um I think there’s some potential challenges with uncertainty and we do need uh more work in that field better maybe some better scalable solutions. I think there are we can measure think we just need to do a better job at refining the uncertainty around soil carbon um and then this additionality and permanence concept uh within markets. We can’t exclude the early adopters like Deborah and and and exclude the good work they’ve done for 20 years on and only look forward we have to have some kind of a solution around additionality and then this idea of permanence being a 100 year uh document or piece of paper legal document to me permanence is not a legal document permanence is keeping ranchers like Deborah on the ground uh ranching and keeping the carbon in the ground and sequestering more of it. And so coming up with some creative solutions around additionality and permanence I think are going to be pretty paramount for any market moving forward thank you for that jeff go ahead definitely can jump in here I didn’t talk about some of the concerns and so please do listen to these so some of the concerns here’s what when people hear that we’ve done this they’ll go what’s different the polluters still get to pollute and you’re going to keep doing what you’re doing and only people that are this is an arbitrary market that’s made up to benefit the middleman and so there’s a so what some of my concerns are. Is integrity reputation in the process contracts that are transparent um benefit to the landowner and the producer who’s been doing this for years and years and importantly part of that message is what especially with the group that we believe we have signed up with why we felt the urge to move with this particular group is that that there’s a vision and a mission that more and more traditional uh practitioners will see that there is benefit beyond if it’s a monetary incentive that gets them to practice regeneratively so that we can grow the benefits that Jeff and Richard have talked about.
That’s great so that one of my concerns is our reputation in this industry the transparency of it and how much we go back to pay homage in monetary ways and in uh respect for the product producers the practitioners Deborah I think you did a great job of just setting everyone up for joining next week’s conversation because that is um you know part of what we’ll be talking about with the panelists from B-carbon and some of the folks working on the more technical side of working out the transparency the measurements um and the market side of things. So thank you, Debra, for uh you know basically promoting next week. I think we’ll go a little bit deeper into that side of things and it’s absolutely um paramount to making this work and really what this is um like you said it’s a market so how do we make sure that that market has integrity and transparency. So thank you for that um let’s see here we’ve got about 15 minutes left and I wanted to give each of you um sort of a moment to wrap up with any final thoughts before we open to q a from the audience and folks who are in the audience please feel free to put your questions um in the chat and we’ll we will try to answer those as best as we can during the last five to ten minutes or so. But um that’s what I’d like to do first if you had a magic wand and could change anything what would that be alongside any uh final closing thoughts. Let’s start with Richard.
Yeah um you know with most of the problems that we face in the world and historically too the biggest um problem is what’s between people’s ears so this is a method as good a method as we can think of getting people interested in moving this direction of actually improving the function on the land to improve their livelihoods and that it has benefits huge benefits for the general population at large so the overall goal of this is really good we must just try and do it in a manner that gets people to continue improving with time rather than just earn a few bucks and then resort to whatever they want after that’s something we’re going to have to work out.
Thank you Richard um Deborah if you had a magic wand what would you change in the world and any final thoughts?
Well a couple of things to Richard’s point um I think the biggest barrier to more adoption of regenerative grazing practices is the mindset. I’m going to quote an old cowboy and that old cowboy happens to be my husband Henry Birdwell and when you ask him why more people don’t adopt regenerative grazing he says it’s because to adopt a new practice would mean you would have to tell the truth that what you’d been doing for decades if not generations had not been productive and so it’s a huge mindset one that we can all understand to make the leap to something like regenerative grazing practices so my magic wand would be that we would be able to not put blame on any segment of the agricultural community but to allow everybody to come in at whatever stage they’re in and to see the benefits in this. And again if it goes back to some of its monetary in order that we see that improvement and all the ecosystems eco service systems fantastic um so that’s my magic wand.
Thank you Debra Jeff over to you.
I guess I you know I kind of like to add on to what Deborah just said if I had a magic wand I would remove all of the barriers uh actual or perceived to moving into a direction where a producer could focus on regenerative outcomes and um there are a number of those and I noticed that was one of the questions we may come back to that but um really I mean when we look at removing those barriers it just opens the opportunity. It opens the door for people that want to move in this direction to move in it as we look at grazing management I mean it’s foundational to ecosystem function in our environments and so managing for those ecological outcomes and really just seeing that benefit looking at understanding how you um how you see your land changes when your mindset changes and so um it’s just opening removing all of the barriers I think would be pretty important.
Thank you for that Jeff um so we’ll spend the last say we’ve got about eight to nine minutes left um doing some q a um and you know you touched on it one of the questions that came through was what is the biggest barrier or perceived barrier um for ranchers and farmers to move to regenerative practices? We’ve already heard about mindsets specifically from Deborah what are those other barriers if any and how can this idea of you know soil carbon storage as a corporate decarbonization solution? Do you think that that can help address some of them?
I think it certainly can, I mean we’ve talked about sort of the social uh or the mindset barrier and there are economic barriers uh potentially uh there could be economic barriers to moving into this direction but largely most of them are social or cultural. I often find we often find that the science is the easy part um and it’s these dynamics when we deal with uh you know our neighbors and our and our family or people uh that become the hardest and so um I think those are probably the strongest barriers to move beyond. And a lot of that is really just education you know and increasing the amount of knowledge that is out there about these processes and moving away from this argument that this is all anecdotal and we have demonstratable uh peer-reviewed research to substantiate uh where we’re coming from and so that’s our job is to bring that information forward.
Thank you Jeff we have an interesting question about specific grasses so let me ask this is there any advantage of keeping endemic species of grasses as the primary vehicle for carbon storage or is that might be a question for Richard. Yes I already saw you unmute.
You see one of the keys to getting the ecosystem functioning well is the suite of evolved biodiversity in the plants and the soil microbes and when you have multiple species that have adapted to the conditions that we live in um then they are the best ones available and have the right degree of flexibility to adjust. When you get these ups and downs in the weather that are just part of the environment we live in so yes having that biodiversity is fundamentally important to moving ahead and regenerating function and that also goes for having native species or species needed to the area that’s right species all the ones you need to and the native communities because there’s a synergism the more species you have there the greater the biological function and that’s really well researched and it’s a huge factor in the equation.
Thank you for that um we’ve got some really great questions here uh let me see if I actually think this one I’m gonna skip around because this actually has to do with what you were just talking about. Really interesting question what is your advice for a tropical climate, how do you start which animals how do you get started with a business plan?
So of course we’re all in Texas the question is about uh tropical climates I’m working with people in many different parts of the world many of them in the tropics we’ve got a couple of really good guys here in Florida and Mexico get in touch with people who live in those environments. You’ll find them on youtube the Australians have got a people a lot of people who work in this. Just listen to people on youtube and the most important for people managing in the land is that they respect the information that comes from other farmers who’ve succeeded more than they will ever listen to a scientist and that’s really where they should learn and get some stuff from the scientists as well and it behooves us as scientists to work closely with those very successful farmers and ranchers to facilitate that whole explosion in learning that needs to take place.
Excellent advice thank you um switching back over to um uh let’s see four minutes the a couple of more technical questions I’m going to combine these two um two questions are how much atmospheric carbon can you store in a ranch of course we’d have to define how big that ranch is maybe you have some stats at the top of your head and then how long um will you be able to store additional carbon. I know you mentioned earlier that um it can be quite long uh compared to other forms of carbon sinks but perhaps you could revisit that really quickly? So how much can be stored in or in a given branch uh and then how long can it be stored?
Now we’ve got research looking directly at those things now the amount of carbon that can be stored in the soils is directly proportional to the resource available to grow plants i.e enough moisture in the soil and enough fertility in the soil. You can have a ranch most ranchers have got poorer soils and better soils you will always get more stored in the better soils and the lower lying ones where there’s runoff water running into those areas so you can manage the whole area to improve the carbon on each one of the soils but it will always be more on the better soils of better infiltration and that’s that really sets the ceiling. In terms of length of time um thousands of years uh as long as the weather remains within the kind of bounds that it varies with now if we move to say something in prior to the dinosaurs being here when they were very dry and very cold areas then there’s just that much less resources to grow plants so it will readjust to that circumstance but you know our lifetimes are much shorter than that so within our lifetimes um you can fix it put it in the soil that would last for at least a lifetime or two or three.
Thank you Richard um Jeff it looked like you might have wanted to add something to that did you want to or should I continue with other questions?
I’m just going to say that it’s I mean it’s contextual it matters where you are in the in the country uh to to Dr Teague’s point um the amount of rainfall that you get um the nutrient cycling that you have um all of those things are pretty contextual. I’d just like to add that that we’re also learning more as we you know look at some of the work that uh has come out of Dr. Francesca Katripo’s lab at colorado state university where she’s looking at at fractionating organic matter organic matter is 58% soil carbon and so as we begin to look at those different organic matter pools. Some of them uh begin to level off at say 10 percent but others the particulate sort of uh pools she hasn’t found the top yet so asking us what’s the limit that’s i’m not sure we have a good answer yet because we haven’t seen it.
Thanks, Jeff um we are at about 12 15 so I um want to make sure that we end on time although I know that everyone could have easily done an hour or more on this topic there’s so many good questions in the chat um what I’ll say is for those that um I will give just a closing statement uh before we uh end at 12:15 so that folks that need to move on can but if you all are okay with staying just a couple of minutes then we can answer the last questions. Okay great well um I just want to say this has been a wonderful introduction and I know that uh from a statistic from grassroots carbon is that if half the grazing lands in the u.s switched to this regenerative methodology we could store between 10 and 23 of the United States’s national carbon footprint every year that is massive and it is scalable however we think that right now less than two percent of grazing lands in the us are managed this way so that’s a lot of land managers that we need to reach to get to half. So I just want to end on the note that this has massive scalable potential with a lot of co-benefits for rural communities for the landowners themselves and I think as you know as carbon markets begin to mature and there’s a question about this so I’ll just say myself there are lots of groups actively working to make carbon as an asset uh official and you can look at the task force on uh scaling voluntary carbon markets as an example of some of the folks that are working on this so uh very bullish on that. Um and uh yeah that’s how I would sum it up um the carbon markets are going to continue to mature this is a massive potential solution with a lot of co-benefits and we think it’s very interesting part of any corporate decarbonization portfolio so thank you. Um all three of you really appreciate it thank you so you guys um whoever needs to sign off thank you very much and I will just go back to answering or asking questions because there are a couple more good ones. Um Deborah this might be for you how fast can a rancher learn to manage in a different way?
You know that’s kind of hard but I’ve got my co-panelists here looking at me I don’t even know how to answer that you can do it really fast I mean you can learn how if you take courses if you find the right people to align yourself with that it’s. You’re not going to do this overnight this will not happen overnight and the process can start very rapidly um and there’s we always say we like to tell people that come out here you just got to get started and one way to and I’m talking in circles here taking courses holistic management Savory Institute understanding ag look as Richard said um the Noble Foundation there’s so many resources that are available out there for us that will introduce us to these principles concepts and practices you can’t do all of them at once. People that do that have uh might not succeed as rapidly so we say you need to focus on one or two things to start moving you in that direction and then you can do it in at a very rapid pace I don’t know if that answered your question but kind of all over the map with that.
That’s okay I guess it depends on how iterative the process is right are you starting with one step are you starting with total transformation right um but a lot of oh sorry go ahead.
Okay um several questions are just asking for um links for research good online courses learning opportunities some of those you mentioned perhaps we could just put a list together and put it online yeah okay we’ll do that afterward um and publish it somewhere maybe on our blog. There was another question oh for Deborah again how fast did you see change on your ranch when you began this 16 17 years ago great that’s I really wanted to take a personal question yes we bought this ranch in 2004 the um the big drought hit what 2008 2007 2008 to 2000 to 2015. That a little bit longer we started noticing um changes within that first five years when we started moving cattle when you just start moving cattle according to a plan not randomly but according to a plan you can start to see immediate changes in your forage and in water quality at diversity covering that bare ground one of the things that we didn’t talk about is once you start growing you have that diversity of grasses or you just have a lot of grass and you get that animal impact on there you’re putting the moribund grasses or the grasses that are not grazed back on the ground they’re being trampled by that herd and they’re forming organic matter so you start to enter into this cycle that’s just uh self-benefiting a self-benefiting type of cycle we really started to notice the difference when we moved from three herds not six when we moved from three herds to one herd the changes that we started seeing in that drought in that drought period were phenomenal. We’re exponential and our best productivity and profitability here we’re in the middle of the drought.
Wow um amazing thank you um there is one question about uh overhead review of capture carbon via satellite photography etc. Does that apply to soil carbon storage? I know that there’s a lot of satellite type companies that can say see where methane plumes are coming off the surface of their does that work in some way for soil carbon or is that sort of would that be a different sector yeah this is in the realm of fantasy at the moment?
We’ve got at least tools that theoretically could really do things you know from a satellite you can get a very good example of any day of the year and through the whole day of the amount of photosynthesis being fixed so there’s straight away there’s a very good thing to measure to see if you improving that or going backward compared to say the previous year or different months of the year but we haven’t got that down to where it’s a tool that can be used by people um easily so they actually use it and make decisions on it we’ve yet to develop that. I’m on a bipartisan panel now with a whole bunch of people who we busy outlining all of these things and what needs to be done in the future to actually move more quickly in this arena so there’s a lot of work to be done in it. I might just add there that I agree there’s a tremendous amount of work in that area there is some opportunity about around measuring carbon flux um atmos uh through uh measuring photosynthesis measuring uh evapotranspiration understanding that photosynthetic pathway a lot better and understanding the full cycle of carbon um we want to know how much we’re sequestering absolutely but what is that full cycle because that carbon that comes back out through the plant it’s through the production of plant material and so um there are some there are a tremendous amount of tools being put on out right now on looking at uh you know remotely sensed techniques. I think those need to be coupled with really good models and with really good parameterized data and so uh we’ve got a ways to go but we’re working on those.
Okay, can I just add real quickly one of the pushbacks again when our colleagues learned that we were about to sign a carbon credit agreement was again centered around how it how is it going to be measured and um in the in the work that we’re that we are going into it’s being measured down to a meter deep and that seemed to satisfy um many of the naysayers because of uh and I don’t know enough about it to be able to be the one to fight this argument but I just know when we started to go tell people that the work the metric that’s going to be used one of the primary metrics is down to a meter deep people sat back and went oh okay and felt like that was a much more fair to the landowner the property owner the producer as well as getting an accurate representation of what your true carbon storage is?
Okay great well we have kept you over time and we very much appreciate it um there had been a few more questions coming in but I think I’ll just say you know direct folks to LinkedIn and to the resources that will share because I don’t want to keep you any longer thank you so much for helping explain all of this and we will see you all next week I hope it’s a pleasure thank you.