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Tags biome management , carbon , carbon cycle , water cycle

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Old 13th January 2014, 12:31 PM   #1
Red Baron Farms
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Biome carbon cycle management

I am starting this thread separate from the global warming thread because carbon sequestration and land use has its own merits only marginally related to the question of global warming. Please respect the topic so this thread doesn't get merged and we can discuss the emerging science without interference and interruptions. Contrary views are welcome, but please stay on topic.

Originally Posted by Trakar View Post
Soil Carbon Sequestration Impacts on Global Climate Change and Food Security
http://www.rowan.k12.ky.us/userfiles...soilcarbon.pdf



Soil carbon sequestration to mitigate climate change: a critical re-examination to identify the true and the false
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/1...342.x/abstract



The knowns, known unknowns and unknowns of sequestration of soil organic carbon
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...67880912003635

(any who are having a difficult time accessing the full version of this paper can contact me via PM)
Thanks for the links. I have seen all or parts of them before, usually as reference to part of another paper.

There are a couple things that I find troublesome, although the over-all gist is fair enough, as far as that goes.

A couple things that are bothering me that we could discuss.

"Removing land from annual cropping and converting to forest, grassland or perennial crops will remove C from atmospheric CO2 and genuinely contribute to climate change mitigation. However, indirect effects such as conversion of land elsewhere under native vegetation to agriculture could negate the benefit through increased CO2 emission. Re-vegetating degraded land, of limited value for food production, avoids this problem"

It seems to me they have completely ignored the possibility of converting to a food forest, or converting to grazed land, both of which can be quite productive in food, eliminating the undesirable indirect effect of needing to convert native vegetation to cropland elsewhere. And actually over all increasing total food production. In these cases "of limited value for food production" do not apply. This leads me to believe they are only considering conventional ag in this paper. I could have read that wrong though, because the wording in the text is somewhat less than precise. They might actually agree, but if so have created an internal conflict in their paper. In either case, converting cropland to grazed grassland does not necessarily reduce production at all. Particularly if the cropland was previously being used to grow livestock feeds which will then no longer be needed due to the animals eating grass. (or biofuels) The trend is exactly the opposite as stated actually. The more grassland converted to cropland, the more the pressure is to convert even more to cropland, because cropland is not nearly as productive as perennial grassland, all else equal.

Another problem I see with that one is " Limitations of C sequestration for climate change mitigation include the following constraints: (i) the quantity of C stored in soil is finite" or from the other study "Thus, the potential is finite in capacity and time. Nonetheless, soil C sequestration buys us time until the alternatives to fossil fuel take effect."

That's true, I mean sure the carbon on earth is finite. The % of that carbon in soils is finite. The coal oil and gas reserves are finite. It's all finite.

However, the implication is that you'll be able to sequester X in the soils, after that the soils will be "full" and we won't be able sequester more. Well, the forest biome does actually act that way in most cases. Exceptions being peat that gets ever deeper, and swamps that have a similar process, or areas of extreme cold where temperature halts the process of decay. But by far the majority of forests do approach a limit over time. So that's cool. No problem there.

Grasslands are different though. The way they sequester carbon is fundamentally different. They follow a completely different curve. It is not from leaf litter on top of the soil. It is a specific biological evolutionary adaptation grasses have for feeding the biome deep in the soil.

You can understand this better if you first understand Endomycorrhizal fungi, and Ectomycorrhizal fungi. As a general rule (with a fair number of exceptions) grasses use endo and trees and shrubs ecto. There is a specific mutualistic relationship between grasses and Endomycorrhizal fungi where the plant feeds the mycorrhizal fungi with sugars down deep where it would have no chances of surviving without help. The fungi repays this debt by supplying the plants with hard to get nutrients and with improved disease and pest resistance. ~ 20% of the products of photosynthesis are pumped directly into the soil biology as sugars feeding that biome, mostly Endomycorrhizal fungi. Then something else happens when a grass is grazed. It then has too much roots in ratio to growing top and to get back in balance it sheds a large quantity of root mass to achieve balance again within hours of being grazed. Endomycorrhizal fungi require a living root to survive. So that triggers the Endomycorrhizal fungi to spore up and the bulk of it dies. So that creates a large % of decaying material from both the plant roots and the Endomycorrhizal fungi which starts the food chain for a whole web of life deep in the soil where the greenhouse gasses have little chances of escaping. This ultimately results in new mollic soil creation and carbon sequestration for thousands of years. As the soil becomes more fertile, instead of tapering off towards a finite limit as in forests, it actually accelerates. This process continues into deep geological time unabated unless the biome is disturbed. (by something like a glacier, volcano, or human plow etc...)

Forests don't do this, they primarily use ectomycorrhizal fungi, and instead feed the soil biology from the top down with leaf litter. A large % of which after decay escapes to the atmosphere. Annual crops don't do this because although they do use Endomycorrhizal fungi their roots are by and large much too small and/or shallow, which allows the greenhouse gasses to escape at a rate close to or sometimes even exceeding the sequestration rate. That's why long term trends for these are either near net carbon neutral (forests), or an emissions source (annual crops).

There are a few more things I saw. But that gets the conversation started.
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Old 13th January 2014, 01:32 PM   #2
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Excellent please link the thread in your signature.

•••

This actually allows a hands on modelling experience for those brave or foolish enough

Quote:
and here's your chance to do your very own modelling...

Quote:
Project: MODEL ARCHIVE
The Model Archive allows users to evaluate the uncertainties of model results in comparison to results from other models in assessment/policy studies. In addition, the archived models allow users to see how models treat individual processes (source code) and what the model inputs were (state parameters, spin-up data, driving variables). For each model the DAAC will have documentation, source code (with version number), input data, example output data, and post-processing or analysis code (if applicable).
Model: Biome-BGC: Terrestrial Ecosystem Process Model, Version 4.1.1
Biome-BGC is a computer program that estimates fluxes and storage of energy, water, carbon, and nitrogen for the vegetation and soil components of terrestrial ecosystems. The primary model purpose is to study global and regional interactions between climate, disturbance, and biogeochemical cycles. Biome-BGC represents physical and biological processes that control fluxes of energy and mass. These processes include new leaf growth and old leaf litterfall, sunlight interception by leaves and penetration to the ground, precipitation routing to leaves and soil, snow accumulation and melting, drainage and runoff of soil water, evaporation of water from soil and wet leaves, transpiration of soil water through leaf stomata, photosynthetic fixation of carbon from CO2 in the air, uptake of nitrogen from the soil, distribution of carbon and nitrogen to growing plant parts, decomposition of fresh plant litter and old soil organic matter, plant mortality, and fire. The model uses a daily time-step, meaning that each flux is estimated for a one-day period. Between days, the program updates its memory of the mass stored in different components of the vegetation, litter, and soil. Weather is the most important control on vegetation processes. Flux estimates in Biome-BGC depend strongly on daily weather conditions. Model behavior over time depends on climate--the history of these weather conditions. A companion file with more information about Biome-BGC and its components is available. Biome-BGC, Version 4.1.1, was developed and is maintained by the Numerical Terradynamic Simulation Group, School of Forestry, the University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, U.S.A. Additional information can be found on their web site at:
http://daac.ornl.gov/cgi-bin/dsviewer.pl?ds_id=805

••••

Quote:
Here is one that looks interesting

The Case for Low Methane-Emitting Cattle
Jan. 10, 2014 — A new research project looks into the possibilities of adapting every aspect of cattle husbandry and selection processes to lower their greenhouse gas emissions.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0110131013.htm
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Old 13th January 2014, 02:58 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
I am starting this thread separate from the global warming thread because carbon sequestration and land use has its own merits only marginally related to the question of global warming. Please respect the topic so this thread doesn't get merged and we can discuss the emerging science without interference and interruptions. Contrary views are welcome, but please stay on topic.

Thanks for the links. I have seen all or parts of them before, usually as reference to part of another paper.

There are a couple things that I find troublesome, although the over-all gist is fair enough, as far as that goes.

A couple things that are bothering me that we could discuss.

"Removing land from annual cropping and converting to forest, grassland or perennial crops will remove C from atmospheric CO2 and genuinely contribute to climate change mitigation. However, indirect effects such as conversion of land elsewhere under native vegetation to agriculture could negate the benefit through increased CO2 emission. Re-vegetating degraded land, of limited value for food production, avoids this problem"

It seems to me they have completely ignored the possibility of converting to a food forest, or converting to grazed land, both of which can be quite productive in food, eliminating the undesirable indirect effect of needing to convert native vegetation to cropland elsewhere. And actually over all increasing total food production. In these cases "of limited value for food production" do not apply. This leads me to believe they are only considering conventional ag in this paper. I could have read that wrong though, because the wording in the text is somewhat less than precise. They might actually agree, but if so have created an internal conflict in their paper. In either case, converting cropland to grazed grassland does not necessarily reduce production at all. Particularly if the cropland was previously being used to grow livestock feeds which will then no longer be needed due to the animals eating grass. (or biofuels) The trend is exactly the opposite as stated actually. The more grassland converted to cropland, the more the pressure is to convert even more to cropland, because cropland is not nearly as productive as perennial grassland, all else equal.

Another problem I see with that one is " Limitations of C sequestration for climate change mitigation include the following constraints: (i) the quantity of C stored in soil is finite" or from the other study "Thus, the potential is finite in capacity and time. Nonetheless, soil C sequestration buys us time until the alternatives to fossil fuel take effect."

That's true, I mean sure the carbon on earth is finite. The % of that carbon in soils is finite. The coal oil and gas reserves are finite. It's all finite.

However, the implication is that you'll be able to sequester X in the soils, after that the soils will be "full" and we won't be able sequester more. Well, the forest biome does actually act that way in most cases. Exceptions being peat that gets ever deeper, and swamps that have a similar process, or areas of extreme cold where temperature halts the process of decay. But by far the majority of forests do approach a limit over time. So that's cool. No problem there.

Grasslands are different though. The way they sequester carbon is fundamentally different. They follow a completely different curve. It is not from leaf litter on top of the soil. It is a specific biological evolutionary adaptation grasses have for feeding the biome deep in the soil.

You can understand this better if you first understand Endomycorrhizal fungi, and Ectomycorrhizal fungi. As a general rule (with a fair number of exceptions) grasses use endo and trees and shrubs ecto. There is a specific mutualistic relationship between grasses and Endomycorrhizal fungi where the plant feeds the mycorrhizal fungi with sugars down deep where it would have no chances of surviving without help. The fungi repays this debt by supplying the plants with hard to get nutrients and with improved disease and pest resistance. ~ 20% of the products of photosynthesis are pumped directly into the soil biology as sugars feeding that biome, mostly Endomycorrhizal fungi. Then something else happens when a grass is grazed. It then has too much roots in ratio to growing top and to get back in balance it sheds a large quantity of root mass to achieve balance again within hours of being grazed. Endomycorrhizal fungi require a living root to survive. So that triggers the Endomycorrhizal fungi to spore up and the bulk of it dies. So that creates a large % of decaying material from both the plant roots and the Endomycorrhizal fungi which starts the food chain for a whole web of life deep in the soil where the greenhouse gasses have little chances of escaping. This ultimately results in new mollic soil creation and carbon sequestration for thousands of years. As the soil becomes more fertile, instead of tapering off towards a finite limit as in forests, it actually accelerates. This process continues into deep geological time unabated unless the biome is disturbed. (by something like a glacier, volcano, or human plow etc...)

Forests don't do this, they primarily use ectomycorrhizal fungi, and instead feed the soil biology from the top down with leaf litter. A large % of which after decay escapes to the atmosphere. Annual crops don't do this because although they do use Endomycorrhizal fungi their roots are by and large much too small and/or shallow, which allows the greenhouse gasses to escape at a rate close to or sometimes even exceeding the sequestration rate. That's why long term trends for these are either near net carbon neutral (forests), or an emissions source (annual crops).

There are a few more things I saw. But that gets the conversation started.
I'm not going to copy or move my response to this in the other thread, but it should be understood that the comments I made in this response post, applies regardless of whether we are looking at climate change issues or AG/Biome management issues. I acknowledge that your issues revolve around the papers I linked in this post, in order for me to address or comment upon your concerns, however, I really need specific quotes from the papers and identification of which paper the specific quote is from. This is so that I can fit the specific quote into the context of the author's overall considerations and then see exactly where your concerns fit into what the authors have studied and stated. It may seem like a lot of "picky little details," but it is not intended to be pedantic, merely to make sure that I can properly integrate the papers' findings with your questions and concerns.

Finally, with all of this said, my primary focus is on climate change issues, but I will be happy to participate in this thread on a more casual basis and contribute what I can, when I can.

Just as a suggestion, you might offer a little more explanation of some of the terms and concepts you mention in the OP, as many people will find this topic rather new and outside of what is casually discussed in most of the Science-Technology board general posts, especially with respect to the various natural soil biomes and artificial/agricultural soil biomes.
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Old 13th January 2014, 04:30 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Trakar View Post
I'm not going to copy or move my response to this in the other thread, but it should be understood that the comments I made in this response post, applies regardless of whether we are looking at climate change issues or AG/Biome management issues. I acknowledge that your issues revolve around the papers I linked in this post, in order for me to address or comment upon your concerns, however, I really need specific quotes from the papers and identification of which paper the specific quote is from. This is so that I can fit the specific quote into the context of the author's overall considerations and then see exactly where your concerns fit into what the authors have studied and stated. It may seem like a lot of "picky little details," but it is not intended to be pedantic, merely to make sure that I can properly integrate the papers' findings with your questions and concerns.

Finally, with all of this said, my primary focus is on climate change issues, but I will be happy to participate in this thread on a more casual basis and contribute what I can, when I can.

Just as a suggestion, you might offer a little more explanation of some of the terms and concepts you mention in the OP, as many people will find this topic rather new and outside of what is casually discussed in most of the Science-Technology board general posts, especially with respect to the various natural soil biomes and artificial/agricultural soil biomes.
OK first quote:
Quote:
"Removing land from annual cropping and converting to forest, grassland or perennial crops will remove C from atmospheric CO2 and genuinely contribute to climate change mitigation. However, indirect effects such as conversion of land elsewhere under native vegetation to agriculture could negate the benefit through increased CO2 emission. Re-vegetating degraded land, of limited value for food production, avoids this problem" source: Soil carbon sequestration to mitigate climate change: a critical re-examination to identify the true and the false, D. S. Powlson
I don't think I used any unfamiliar terms in my reply to that. Although "food forest" Might be new to some. It is a permaculture technique that when restoring a forest mimics a natural forest but replaces a variety of wild species with domesticated species. For example you might plant winesap apples instead of crab apples, you might plant English walnuts or pecans instead of black walnuts or butternuts. In a Permaculture food forest you do use multiple species, called guilds with similar symbiotic relationships as wild forests. Because you use domestic species largely (a few wild mixed in too for diversity), they produce a lot more food for human consumption.

Next two quotes are
Quote:
" Limitations of C sequestration for climate change mitigation include the following constraints: (i) the quantity of C stored in soil is finite"Soil carbon sequestration to mitigate climate change: a critical re-examination to identify the true and the false, D. S. Powlson
and
Quote:
"Thus, the potential is finite in capacity and time. Nonetheless, soil C sequestration buys us time until the alternatives to fossil fuel take effect." Soil Carbon Sequestration Impacts on Global
Climate Change and Food Security
R. Lal
I used a few terms people may not understand like Endomycorrhizal fungi. But nothing too particularly difficult to look up on wikipedia. The thing to remember is that Endomycorrhizal fungi actually penetrate the cell wall of the root system and functions almost like an extension of the roots. However mycorrhizal fibers (called hyphae) are about 1/10th the diameter of the finest root hairs and can greatly improve nutrient availability for a plant. The other term I used that people might not know is mollic soil (or mollisol). It is an order of soils with a taxonomic description defined by the USDA. It is a soil type formed by grasslands that has a very high concentration of carbon that runs very deep (several meters is not uncommon). It has a crumbly granular texture and is very dark, most times black. Basically it is that rich deep black topsoil that farmers dream about, and grasslands manufacture it. It is the world's most productive agricultural soil type.
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Old 14th January 2014, 10:05 AM   #5
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OK Here is a great example of a potential change that serves multiple beneficial functions.
switchgrass

1) Soil and wildlife conservation
2) Dual purpose fields that serve as forage for cattle and harvest of biomass for biofuels
3) Reduce coal use for electricity
4) Yields 5X more energy in ethanol than it takes to produce it, a substantial improvement over corn
5) Sequesters carbon in the soil long term, capable of restoring marginal land
Switchgrass for Bioenergy

In my opinion a huge improvement over current corn and soy based biofuels
First off it heals the land and that improves all the ecosystem services. Then it sequesters CO2 deep in the soil. Still provides food for livestock, IMHO healthier for both the cattle and humans. Reduces coal pollution including Fossil Fuel CO2 emissions. Managed properly it is a self fertilizing biome, with no need for synthetic nitrogen fertilizers or pesticides.

I honestly don't see any downside.
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Biome Carbon Cycle Management
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Old 14th January 2014, 10:29 AM   #6
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I'd been following switch grass for a while as well and certainly looks viable.
What about hemp?

http://www.kentucky.com/2013/02/26/2...-biofuels.html

Certainly looks good for this coal based economy

Seems seriously flawed that farmers are being paid to leave land empty when there re bio-fuel crops but what are the fossil fuel inputs required for either??

BTW lovely movie.

http://the-mooman.co.uk

This is a long report on carbon sequestration in soils in Australia

http://www.csiro.au/Portals/Publicat...al-Report.aspx

http://www.csiro.au/en/Outcomes/Clim...-findings.aspx

this is a snip from above with exactly the kind of hard numbers I was looking for.
Quote:
Key finding 1: With committed research and policy efforts, a large amount of carbon could be stored or greenhouse gases abated in Australia’s rural lands and this could significantly offset our emissions over the next 40 years.
Australia’s forestry, agricultural and land management systems have significant potential to store or sequester carbon in their vegetation and soils and offset large amounts of our greenhouse gas emissions over the next 40 years.
Quote:
Australia’s agricultural land systems and land clearing account for a relatively high percentage (28 per cent) of our greenhouse gas emissions of 597 Mt CO2-e/yr (million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents per year) (2007).

Australia’s agricultural lands are relatively high sources of greenhouse gas emissions when compared internationally. Our agricultural sector and land clearing account for about 28 per cent of our net greenhouse gas emissions of 597 Mt CO2-e/yr (2007).

Key finding 4: Queensland can offset up to 77 per cent of its greenhouse gas emissions and similar trends apply nationally.

With a committed research and policy effort, as much as 140 MT each year, or 77 per cent of Queensland’s (182 MT per year) carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) greenhouse emissions, could be offset by rural land use change that either stores carbon or mitigates emissions. Storage options would saturate over a 40-50 year period but options that mitigate greenhouse gas emissions will continue indefinitely. Similar trends apply nationally.
Now Queensland is a bit of an odd duck compared to other areas in Australia but still those are serious numbers.

You might want to add to your list of sources
http://www.csiro.au/en/Outcomes/Envi...il-carbon.aspx

Last edited by macdoc; 14th January 2014 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 14th January 2014, 10:49 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
I'd been following switch grass for a while as well and certainly looks viable.
What about hemp?

http://www.kentucky.com/2013/02/26/2...-biofuels.html

Certainly looks good for this coal based economy

Seems seriously flawed that farmers are being paid to leave land empty when there re bio-fuel crops but what are the fossil fuel inputs required for either??
I can't speak about the fossil fuel requirements for growing hemp quite honestly. I don't know how it is grown. It is an annual as far as I know, so the carbon sequestration in the soil potential is limited when compared to the grassland biome.

Grasslands have a very tiny FF requirement, harvested by cattle, almost none. Harvested for biofuels, existing hay equipment is pretty efficient.
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Old 14th January 2014, 10:57 AM   #8
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So sawgrass is a perennial?
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Old 14th January 2014, 11:19 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
So sawgrass is a perennial?
Sawgrass isn't a grass, it's a sedge. But yeah it is a perennial. Don't see the linkage though. Sawgrass is a swamp (wetlands) plant. Switchgrass is a tallgrass prairie plant.

You have a reason for asking?
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Old 14th January 2014, 03:20 PM   #10
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Sorry - meant switchgrass - is switchgrass a perennial?
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Old 14th January 2014, 04:11 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
Sorry - meant switchgrass - is switchgrass a perennial?
Yes, very deep rooted too. A grass along the lines of Eastern Gamma grass. Which actually would be a good one too once the biome was healed. Eastern Gamagrass needs a healthy biome to establish itself. Once established, both switchgrass and eastern Gamagrass have incredible drought and flood resistance, can grow 10 feet tall, and have roots 15 feet + deep, and become carbon sequestration machines.

If I was going to plan it, I would start with a basic blend of grasses and forbs, mostly switchgrass, and add some of the higher successional species like Gamagrass later as the soil improved. But those are both warm season grasses, you'd need some cool weather grasses in the blend too. The key being to have photosynthesis as long as possible, preferably a full 12 months.
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Old 14th January 2014, 05:19 PM   #12
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Can switch grass be harvested annually without fertilizer inputs?
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Old 14th January 2014, 05:55 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
Can switch grass be harvested annually without fertilizer inputs?
It can be. It evolved in a biome adapted to that low turnover of nitrogen. However, to really get it established, a proper rotational grazing management system will provide all the fertilizer it needs in the cattle manure. And some co-evolved legumes helps too. If you were to try only switchgrass in basically a monocrop system, and only cut it for biofuels, you would need some ferts though.

Personally I would think using it as dual purpose land with BOTH cutting for hay (dry biomass) and livestock forage, would be your best bet most times. Then the equations fall squarely in favor of grass. Then you sequester CO2 in the soil, reduce emissions of fossil fuel by making biofuels, That attacks both sides of the carbon cycle. Then you get a side benefit of making it self fertile and producing human food too! Any time you try grazing too much cattle, or cutting too much biomass for fuel, you run the risk of stressing the system too much and killing the grass or requiring heavy inputs. If you sit back and let it do its thing, after a few years it becomes incredibly productive without ANY outside inputs. I believe if you do it right you can get 3 or 4 harvests or more a year. So rotate cattle through once or twice, they leave their manure, then the switchgrass vigorously grows for your biomass cuttings.

The exact rotation I am unsure of because it varies and in my research I get different answers and a lot of "depends". Especially since my personal project is a bit different than either, considering I am a vegetable grower. But I do have a professor at the University here in Oklahoma helping me.

ETA The USDA fact sheet SWITCHGRASS
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Biome Carbon Cycle Management

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Old 14th January 2014, 08:11 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
OK first quote:
Link

I don't believe there is anything that I am reading in the author's comments to suggest that they would object to a food forest concept, the problem is (reverse) engineering crop plants to a wider range of increasingly changing and challenging environments where even naturally evolved species are proving hard pressed to survive, yet alone thrive. Ultimately, I'm hoping that things can prevented from getting dire enough to resort to Dyson's dreams, but I do believe that genetic manipulation may be a direction worth giving more consideration.
The change may well be engineering our crops to grow root and support systems more like those of the natural flora and fauna of local/regional climate areas. As the local/regional climate shifts, shift to the appropriate biome adaptations copied from natural masters of their environment. Production is still going to vary according to efficiencies of the adaptations and resource availability, but we could marry the goals of AG efficiency/climate adaptation and if it so happens to at least temporarily enhance the sequestration abilities of one of our planet's greatest shallow carbon reservoirs,...sounds good to me!

Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
I don't think I used any unfamiliar terms in my reply to that. Although "food forest" Might be new to some. It is a permaculture technique that when restoring a forest mimics a natural forest but replaces a variety of wild species with domesticated species.
There is generally a big difference between trees that grow well and produce high quality fruit in a tended orchard environment and achieving those same results in widely dispersed domestic fruit trees places in a wild environment. Mass harvesting becomes much more difficult/expensive. These changes would not only require social, economic and AG changes within the US, it would require dramatic social, economic and AG changes across the face of the planet.

Any significant divergence by other nations and peoples will result in offsetting "...conversion of land elsewhere under native vegetation to agriculture," which "could negate the benefit through increased CO2 emission." Their concerns aren't so much with the science of the potential of what could be achieved if everyone, everywhere followed the same playbook, their concern seems to be more with Murphy and the basic understanding that poor, farmers are going to do what poor farmers need to do to survive and grow their families, regardless of what anyone else says.

What the authors of that paper seem to be pointing to, is that it would be easier for a nation state to subtly alter and shift the biome of non-commercially viable public lands (and fallow private lands) to make them more capable of sequestering carbon, than it is to make and enforce regulations about how the owners must pay to make changes to lands they own and are already making profitable use of.

Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
Next two quotes are
Link
If it is the "finite" term, this is true, and refers primarily to the fact that in a period where climates are undergoing transition what may be good seasonal patterns of rainfall and temperature for prairie plants and the extra sequestration of carbon currently, or in historically similar periods may not be in a similarly beneficial set of circumstances in the near future. As the climate shifts (or different political opinions decide such programs cost too much money the carbon you've temporarily sequestered may be re-emitted complicating dealing with the overall problem.

I think they are just of the opinion that the concept needs further consideration to deal with complicating factors that are presenting themselves as potential issues of concern, before any serious moves are made to move forward with such a policy. 13% of annual emissions is a sizable chunk of beneficial assistance, but if it switched to a source due to temp. enhancements that are already likely due to carbon already emitted and in the pipeline, the concept needs additional research.

Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
and
LINK

Lal, using the phrase that carbon storage is finite is actually referring to the chemical bonding of carbon to exposed mineral surfaces in the soil. In general, it is the strong attraction interaction of carbon compounds with the minerals in soil that tends to lock away the carbon from ability of microbes to easily absorb and release in the form of CO2 (a lot of simplifying going on here). The temperatures at which this binding is stable is highly temperature dependent. In general, the higher the soil temperature, the less stable this mineral binding is effective. This leads to the problem that given increasing atmospheric carbon levels (which are not finite) and the consequent temperature rises that are associated with these increases, there are near term limits on how much CO2 the soils can store carbon and how long they can hold onto that store of carbon.

As you have another focus, I don't want to dwell on the climate perspective, but the papers I presented in the other thread had a climate focus in their considerations of the issue.
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Old 14th January 2014, 08:31 PM   #15
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I'd certainly support specific fuel related bioengineering plants especially for marginal areas that cannot support agriculture....there are too many marginal areas already that are heavily supported with fossil fuel fertilizers and unsustainable water use.

Cuba had to do it but I think what they learned there to get sufficient food within a near to urban structure and recycling of nutrients.

If we identify the marginal areas and rationally convert to fuel supply.

Jared Diamond's comments on how unsustainable agriculture in a great deal of Australia really hit home.

While I'd prefer an algae based solution to biofuels as the US Military is pursuing high yield biofuel crops for marginal land should be under consideration.

But I think foolishly designed subsidies for biofuels from corn and absolutely stunningly stupid fossil fuel subsidies makes the ROI difficult.
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Old 15th January 2014, 03:05 AM   #16
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Biome carbon cycle management

How about this crazy unsustainable agriculture practice and it's consequences!!!

Quote:
If you want to receive your single farm payment – by far the biggest component of farm subsidies – that land has to be free from what it calls "unwanted vegetation". Land covered by trees is not eligible. The subsidy rules have enforced the mass clearance of vegetation from the hills.
http://www.theguardian.com/commentis...policies-homes

I would imagine the proposed solutions also improve carbon sequestration let alone help prevent flooding from extreme weather in the future due to global warming.
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Old 15th January 2014, 03:08 AM   #17
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Any thoughts on biochar and carbon sequestration RBF, Trakar, Macdoc?
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Old 15th January 2014, 03:37 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by !Kaggen View Post
How about this crazy unsustainable agriculture practice and it's consequences!!!


http://www.theguardian.com/commentis...policies-homes

I would imagine the proposed solutions also improve carbon sequestration let alone help prevent flooding from extreme weather in the future due to global warming.
Wow I am truly stunned Kaggen. We have our own problems here in USA from flooding, but long ago the exact opposite policy was put in by USDA-NRCS. Instead of clearing riparian areas, we have strict policies, subsidies and regulations in place to improve and expand that crucial environment. It has helped a lot too. More can be done, but at least here in USA there is no way that idiocy can happen. The guy doing that would literally be thrown in jail, if he survived the lynch mob. Someone there needs to send this guy a primer on keylines and fast! Keyline design
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Old 16th January 2014, 04:32 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Trakar View Post

I don't believe there is anything that I am reading in the author's comments to suggest that they would object to a food forest concept, the problem is (reverse) engineering crop plants to a wider range of increasingly changing and challenging environments where even naturally evolved species are proving hard pressed to survive, yet alone thrive. Ultimately, I'm hoping that things can prevented from getting dire enough to resort to Dyson's dreams, but I do believe that genetic manipulation may be a direction worth giving more consideration.
The change may well be engineering our crops to grow root and support systems more like those of the natural flora and fauna of local/regional climate areas. As the local/regional climate shifts, shift to the appropriate biome adaptations copied from natural masters of their environment. Production is still going to vary according to efficiencies of the adaptations and resource availability, but we could marry the goals of AG efficiency/climate adaptation and if it so happens to at least temporarily enhance the sequestration abilities of one of our planet's greatest shallow carbon reservoirs,...sounds good to me!
You probably missed it but that is exactly what I was talking about. Not GE trees, modified crops. There are 2 general ways to accomplish this. One is being developed now, and one is already well proven. You can directly modify the crop's genetics like this: Future Farming: A Return to Roots The result being that a grain crop itself becomes a net carbon sink instead of a net carbon emission source.

The other way to approach the problem is purely a methods and management technique like this: Why Pasture Cropping is such a Big Deal

In this second case the crop itself is still probably a net carbon emissions source, but the cropland as a whole can be seen as a net carbon sink.

One day I expect both the above to merge. But there is still breeding work to be done on the crop modification for now. They are however surprising close to rolling out the first commercially available perennial cereal grains.

There is of course a third option which is to simply not grow the cereal grain crop at all. In the US around ~70% +/- of cereal grains and soybeans are used for non human food purposes like livestock feed and biofuels. (~ 40% +/- world wide) That leaves the option of growing grasses and forbs instead of excess grains, and using the grasses and forbs as livestock feed and biomass for biofuels. Turns out that because a perennial grassland is FAR more productive in terms of biomass compared to an annual crop, it increases total productivity of the land while at the same time being a net carbon sink. Win Win


Originally Posted by Trakar View Post
There is generally a big difference between trees that grow well and produce high quality fruit in a tended orchard environment and achieving those same results in widely dispersed domestic fruit trees places in a wild environment. Mass harvesting becomes much more difficult/expensive. These changes would not only require social, economic and AG changes within the US, it would require dramatic social, economic and AG changes across the face of the planet.
Partly true. But it is not so difficult a problem as you might think. Basically you just hit me with a Luddite Fallacy, although few people view it as such. There will need to be changes across the board. That's a given, as with any technological advancement. But not so huge a change as you seem to indicate. And those companies in commercial Ag that fail to adapt will simply whither away like the last best buggy whip maker whithered away as society embraced the automobile. There will be plenty of new opportunities available for those flexible enough to adapt. Here is a good example of how commercially viable farms and orchards can be also environmentally sound and a net carbon sink at the same time: Chaffin Orchards

Keep in mind that is just one business model. Here in Oklahoma a popular commercially viable model combines pecans and livestock, instead of olives, citrus and livestock. Every area will be slightly different. In tropical areas commercially viable models have been built with tall nut trees and/or mangoes, and shade loving understories of things like coffee, cacao (chocolate), bananas etc... and different types of livestock on the ground. Other places combine hardwoods for lumber and pigs to the benefit of both. The principle remains the same, only the specifics vary. Human ingenuity is the only limitation.

Originally Posted by Trakar View Post
Any significant divergence by other nations and peoples will result in offsetting "...conversion of land elsewhere under native vegetation to agriculture," which "could negate the benefit through increased CO2 emission." Their concerns aren't so much with the science of the potential of what could be achieved if everyone, everywhere followed the same playbook, their concern seems to be more with Murphy and the basic understanding that poor, farmers are going to do what poor farmers need to do to survive and grow their families, regardless of what anyone else says.
That's a valid concern, but misplaced IMHO. Education in profitable business models attached to these agricultural changes are the main need. They are out there, but most people have not been educated in how to implement them.

Originally Posted by Trakar View Post
What the authors of that paper seem to be pointing to, is that it would be easier for a nation state to subtly alter and shift the biome of non-commercially viable public lands (and fallow private lands) to make them more capable of sequestering carbon, than it is to make and enforce regulations about how the owners must pay to make changes to lands they own and are already making profitable use of.
I vigorously disagree. They are taking a narrow view, and are looking at only a small part of the total picture. That doesn't include the hidden costs associated with the loss of ecosystem services like the water cycle, the carbon cycle, the energy cycle, flood control, drought resistance, and on and on and on...... It may be harder to define the economic value of ecosystem services and, therefore, the ecosystems and people most dependent on them for their subsistence. Certainly economically and politically powerful users can easily quantify and argue their needs easier. However, it is the duty of the nation state to make sure the whole costs, including the loss of ecosystem services seen with current commercial agriculture, are included directly in their business models, whether that be regulations, taxes, cap and trade in carbon markets, subsidies for "green alternatives", or whatever way governments can devise. I am not against "subtly alter(ing) and shift(ing) the biome of non-commercially viable public lands (and fallow private lands) to make them more capable of sequestering carbon" Certainly Alan Savory seems to think that alone will be enough to sequester all the carbon from Fossil Fuels. I am not fully convinced though. Possible. If done on enough land. But it would take staggeringly large amounts of land, and you'd be fighting against commercial ag continuing their destructive practices. So yes, I am a strong advocate of that, but not sure it is enough. Here is Savory's plan presented in a white paper: Holistic Management

That's the best plan I have seen so far that "subtly alter(s) and shift(s) the biome of non-commercially viable public lands (and fallow private lands) to make them more capable of sequestering carbon". It even takes these marginal lands and returns them to commercial viability, which is awesome. His "proof of concept" trial even won the Buckminster Fuller award, and 10's of millions of acres have been transformed already. So it is possible. But as I said before. It takes a LOT of acres. I am not convinced it will be enough without changing agricultural models as well.


Originally Posted by Trakar View Post
If it is the "finite" term, this is true, and refers primarily to the fact that in a period where climates are undergoing transition what may be good seasonal patterns of rainfall and temperature for prairie plants and the extra sequestration of carbon currently, or in historically similar periods may not be in a similarly beneficial set of circumstances in the near future. As the climate shifts (or different political opinions decide such programs cost too much money the carbon you've temporarily sequestered may be re-emitted complicating dealing with the overall problem.

I think they are just of the opinion that the concept needs further consideration to deal with complicating factors that are presenting themselves as potential issues of concern, before any serious moves are made to move forward with such a policy. 13% of annual emissions is a sizable chunk of beneficial assistance, but if it switched to a source due to temp. enhancements that are already likely due to carbon already emitted and in the pipeline, the concept needs additional research.
Lal, using the phrase that carbon storage is finite is actually referring to the chemical bonding of carbon to exposed mineral surfaces in the soil. In general, it is the strong attraction interaction of carbon compounds with the minerals in soil that tends to lock away the carbon from ability of microbes to easily absorb and release in the form of CO2 (a lot of simplifying going on here). The temperatures at which this binding is stable is highly temperature dependent. In general, the higher the soil temperature, the less stable this mineral binding is effective. This leads to the problem that given increasing atmospheric carbon levels (which are not finite) and the consequent temperature rises that are associated with these increases, there are near term limits on how much CO2 the soils can store carbon and how long they can hold onto that store of carbon.
I'll never argue against additional research. However, that shouldn't stop us from proceeding. It only indicates the urgency in proceeding BEFORE AGW increases too far. The grassland biome is proven potentially capable of sequestering carbon into deep geologic time. Cenozoic Expansion of Grasslands and Climatic Cooling It's very hard to go back and say we should have started sooner. On the other hand if we find in the future we accidently have sequestered too much carbon. It is very easy to release it. We have that technique mastered.



Originally Posted by Trakar View Post
As you have another focus, I don't want to dwell on the climate perspective, but the papers I presented in the other thread had a climate focus in their considerations of the issue.
I have no problem discussing climate here. Climate is a very important part of biomes. Critical in fact. What I want to stay focused on here though is mitigation and carbon sequestration in biomes, not endless arguments as to what % of climate change is natural and what % of climate change is man made.
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Old 16th January 2014, 05:29 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by !Kaggen View Post
Any thoughts on biochar and carbon sequestration RBF, Trakar, Macdoc?
I have experimented a little with biochar, with mixed results. In really poor soil it helps a lot. Especially if leaching is a problem. In good soil I see little difference if any. I would chalk it up as a useful thing, mainly due to the huge quantities of degraded soils that can be found. But not necessarily useful or cost effective in a large range of areas. That's just my anecdotal observations.
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Old 16th January 2014, 01:47 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by !Kaggen View Post
Any thoughts on biochar and carbon sequestration RBF, Trakar, Macdoc?
I haven't really researched this in regard to sequestration issues, but I stumbled upon a variant of this decades ago when I was gardening in soils with really low pH, and was always amending the soil with wood ashes to raise the pH. I noticed that plant roots seemed to penetrate and permeate all the little chunks of charcoal that were mixed in with the ashes from the burn piles. I started separating out all my charcoal clumps and soaking them in compost/vermiculture teas for several weeks and then allowing them to completely dry before amending them to the garden soil in the late winter/early spring (usually a couple of weeks before planting). I didn't run any controls, so my assessment is more subjective than scientific, but I've always managed to produce bountiful and delicious results.

Even in relatively dry springs and summers, my gardens seem to hold moisture extremely well and require much less frequent watering than those of neighbors in this area.
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Old 17th January 2014, 02:17 PM   #22
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I've read some interesting articles on bio-char and certainly the combined benefit of sequestration and soil enhancement seems brilliant.
This was the article I think
http://www.scientificamerican.com/po...ge-an-10-08-08

What can be done on the agri-industry scale tho I'm not certain.
Much of this revolves around connecting the dots between our fossil fuel use and somehow recapturing that C02 at the power plant level and using it to aid fertility but I think we are a long ways away.

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Old 17th January 2014, 10:54 PM   #23
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Now this is good $3 gal biodiesel vegetable based

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/201...ewable-diesel/
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Old 18th January 2014, 09:06 PM   #24
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How much is land use management/issues covered in the IPCC reports?
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Old 18th January 2014, 10:06 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
How much is land use management/issues covered in the IPCC reports?
As well as most natural and anthropogenic factors.
Anthropogenic factors may provide some noticeable, but minor, signal as long ago as the first large scale agricultural efforts in the ME and southern Asia some 5-8000ya.

The Anthropogenic Greenhouse Era Began Thousands of Years Ago - http://link.springer.com/article/10....04577.17928.fa

Quote:
...This hypothesis is based on three arguments. (1) Cyclic variations in CO2 andCH4 driven by Earth-orbital changes during the last 350,000 years predict decreases throughout the Holocene, but the CO2 trend began an anomalous increase 8000 years ago, and the CH4 trend did so 5000 years ago.(2) Published explanations for these mid- to late-Holocene gas increases based on natural forcing can be rejected based on paleoclimatic evidence. (3) A wide array of archeological, cultural, historical and geologic evidence points to viable explanations tied to anthropogenic changes resulting from early agriculture in Eurasia, including the start of forest clearance by 8000 years ago and of rice irrigation by 5000 years ago. In recent millennia, the estimated warming caused by these early gas emissions reached a global-mean value of ∼ 0.8 °C and roughly 2 °C at high latitudes, large enough to have stopped a glaciation of northeastern Canada predicted by two kinds of climatic models...
Early rice farming and anomalous methane trends
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...77379108000760

Quote:
The anthropogenic explanation for the increase in atmospheric methane concentration during the last 5000 years requires large CH4 emissions from human activities beginning early in the Bronze Age. This paper presents a compilation of 311 archeological sites in rice-growing regions of China. The number of new sites between 6000 and 4000 years ago increased almost ten-fold compared with those during previous millennia...
The Holocene CO2 rise: Anthropogenic or natural?
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/1...30002/abstract

Quote:
In view of the wide attention received by the suggestion that the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) over the last 8000 years is anthropogenic rather than natural in origin [Ruddiman, 2003], this claim should be carefully examined.The basis for the claim is that following each of the three preceding glacial terminations, the CO2 content of the atmosphere peaked early on and then underwent a steady decline. By contrast, following the end of the last glacial period, while it also peaked early the decline bottomed out around 8000 years ago, and since then the atmospheric CO2 content has steadily risen.

By analogy with previous interglaciations, Ruddiman estimates that in the absence of human activity, the CO2 content of the atmosphere would have dropped to 240 ppm. Instead it has risen to 280 ppm. In a recent article, Ruddiman [2005] proposes that this 40 ppm human-induced rise prevented the onset of another ice age.
Note: the author is speaking pre-industrial human land use contributions to atmospheric CO2 levels.

Many more that is just a quick grab of papers, there is a lot of forest felling, swamp draining, irrigation, agricutulture, etc..
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Old 18th January 2014, 10:31 PM   #26
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Thanks....y'know sometimes I forget the Holocene optimum is well within archeological time frames.

Quote:
A wide array of archeological, cultural, historical and geologic evidence points to viable explanations tied to anthropogenic changes resulting from early agriculture in Eurasia, including the start of forest clearance by 8000 years ago and of rice irrigation by 5000 years ago.
and China has been a "settled civilization for at least 5,000 years. North America is so young by comparison. Still fighting over the 13,000 year Clovis limit for any humans at all tho I think that barrier is pretty much gone.

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Old 19th January 2014, 09:56 AM   #27
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I really like this concept - even if not directly related to biome carbon management there are lots of knock on positive effects and a high tech version of what CUba had to do bringing food production into cities.

Quote:
Vertical farms sprouting all over the world

16 January 2014 by Paul Marks

Leader: "Fruit and veg, fresh from the skyscraper"

URBAN warehouses, derelict buildings and high-rises are the last places you'd expect to find the seeds of a green revolution. But from Singapore to Scranton, Pennsylvania, "vertical farms" are promising a new, environmentally friendly way to feed the rapidly swelling populations of cities worldwide.

In March, the world's largest vertical farm is set to open up shop in Scranton. Built by Green Spirit Farms (GSF) of New Buffalo, Michigan, it will only be a single storey covering 3.25 hectares, but with racks stacked six high it will house 17 million plants. And it is just one of a growing number.

Vertical farms aim to avoid the problems inherent in growing food crops in drought-and-disease-prone fields many hundreds of kilometres from the population centres in which they will be consumed. Instead, Dickson Despommier – an ecologist at Columbia University in New York City who has championed vertical farms since 1999 – suggests that food should be grown year-round in high-rise urban buildings, reducing the need for the carbon-emitting transport of fruit and vegetables.

The plant racks in a vertical farm can be fed nutrients by water-conserving, soil-free hydroponic systems and lit by LEDs that mimic sunlight. And they need not be difficult to manage: control software can choreograph rotating racks of plants so each gets the same amount of light, and direct water pumps to ensure nutrients are evenly distributed.

The whole apparatus can be monitored from a farmer's smartphone (see "Farming from afar"), says GSF's R&D manager, Daniel Kluko. He says the new farm in Scranton will grow 14 lettuce crops per year, as well as spinach, kale, tomatoes, peppers, basil and strawberries. Its output will be almost 10 times greater than the firm's first vertical farm, which opened in New Buffalo in 2011.

Proponents see vertical farming as a way to feed a global population that is urbanising fast: 86 per cent of the people in the developed world will live in cities by 2050, the United Nations predicts. It could make food supplies more secure as well, because production can continue even when extreme weather strikes. And as long as farmers are careful to protect their indoor "fields" from pests, vertical farming needs no herbicides or insecticides. They also conserve water far better than earthbound farming.

GSF's first farm was inspired by the long-term drought that has been afflicting many parts of the US. "Water is a big issue," says Kluko. "We have designed our vertical farms to recycle it, and they use 98 per cent less water per item of produce than traditional farming." That's done in part by scavenging water from the grow room's atmosphere with a dehumidifier. It's a machine with a dual role, as excess humidity can lead to problems like leaf mould.
more

http://www.newscientist.com/article/...l#.UtwCbHn0B_w

one of those million mini Manhattan Project solutions to get more sustainable.
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Old 19th January 2014, 11:57 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
I really like this concept - even if not directly related to biome carbon management there are lots of knock on positive effects and a high tech version of what CUba had to do bringing food production into cities.


more

http://www.newscientist.com/article/...l#.UtwCbHn0B_w

one of those million mini Manhattan Project solutions to get more sustainable.
It is interesting, and probably has its place. But compared to this?

Ron Finley

Not everything in the vid is completely accurate. And just because it could be done, and would help in transportation carbon costs, it doesn't necessarily mean the land would become a carbon sequestration sink. You still have to do it correctly in order to make the land a net sequestration sink. But Ron does a fantastic job of of at least getting people to open their eyes to possibilities available to them right now, without huge government programs or tax bills.
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Old 19th January 2014, 11:58 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
I really like this concept - even if not directly related to biome carbon management there are lots of knock on positive effects and a high tech version of what CUba had to do bringing food production into cities.


more

http://www.newscientist.com/article/...l#.UtwCbHn0B_w

one of those million mini Manhattan Project solutions to get more sustainable.
Agreed, I've always liked this idea. Growing conditions are optimized, little to no need for pesticides and weed combating herbicides, and the food is grown very near to the populations that will be consuming them. You eliminate a lot of the carbon that is normally connected to crop production and distribution. As long as your power is generated from a non-fossil fuel power plant it is really a green farming technology.
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Old 19th January 2014, 12:05 PM   #30
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Quote:
It is interesting, and probably has its place. But compared to this?

Ron Finley
Yes - what Ron has done is what Cuba had to do ...

Quote:
In 1989, over 57% of Cuba’s caloric intake was imported from the Soviet Union. When it collapsed, Cuba became, virtually overnight, solely responsible for feeding its population – including the 2.2 million in the city of Havana. [1] What happened next is an incredible story of resilience and innovation.

As our world becomes increasingly urbanized, our farms increasingly endangered, and our reliance upon fossil fuels increasingly undesirable, the question of how we will feed billions of future city dwellers is no mere thought experiment – it’s an urgent reality.

The story of Cuba offers us an interesting question: What would our cities look like if we began to place food production/distribution as the primary focus of urban design? And what will it take to make this vision a reality?
http://www.archdaily.com/237526/urba...-can-teach-us/

But to get it fully in gear it's not a guerrilla movement that is needed but industrial applied to urban settings.

That means building codes and regulation. I could see Portland with it's Sustainability Department acting on this.
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Old 19th January 2014, 04:53 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
Yes - what Ron has done is what Cuba had to do ...


http://www.archdaily.com/237526/urba...-can-teach-us/

But to get it fully in gear it's not a guerrilla movement that is needed but industrial applied to urban settings.

That means building codes and regulation. I could see Portland with it's Sustainability Department acting on this.
The most important part of the link you posted is this:
Quote:
What it required, however, was the complete and forced removal of its previously entrenched food system.
That I believe is key. Eliminate in some way the destructive practice, and sustainable will fill the vacuum easily. And just to prove Cuba is in no way unique, all you have to do is go back to WWII.

According to wikipedia:
Quote:
Although at first the Department of Agriculture objected to Eleanor Roosevelt's institution of a victory garden on the White House grounds, fearing that such a movement would hurt the food industry,[7] basic information about gardening appeared in public services booklets distributed by the Department of Agriculture, as well as by agribusiness corporations such as International Harvester and Beech-Nut. Fruit and vegetables harvested in these home and community plots was estimated to be 9-10 million tons, an amount equal to all commercial production of fresh vegetables.
And that quote from wikipedia hilites the other big problem. The USDA, which currently is beholden to the policies that originally drove the family farmers off the land and replaced them with non-sustainable industrial models. So much so in fact that the USDA-NRCS often has conflicting policies with the USDA. It is literally a house divided, with policies and regulations sometimes diametrically opposed to each other.
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Old 19th January 2014, 05:02 PM   #32
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No argument from me but how to get there is a huge problem.

The food processing industry is too vertical and oligarchic - only the government has enough power to counter it and they are far too much in big agri pocket.

This is one case where it may have to be market forces ( as effectively it was in Cuba ) that bring about a change.
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Old 20th January 2014, 01:35 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
No argument from me but how to get there is a huge problem.

The food processing industry is too vertical and oligarchic - only the government has enough power to counter it and they are far too much in big agri pocket.

This is one case where it may have to be market forces ( as effectively it was in Cuba ) that bring about a change.
If it was just market forces there would be no problem to begin with. The problem isn't market forces. The problem is the government subsidizing unsustainable and polluting practices on purpose. That goes for energy as well as agriculture. As I said, it is a house divided.

It has always been my contention that farmers are the most concerned about soil health, animal welfare, pollution, nutrient and water cycles etc... The question therefore isn't whether farmers will do the right thing or not, the question is whether farmers will be given the information and tools to do the right thing. No farmer wants to destroy his land. No farmer wants all his animals sick and miserable. No farmer wants to produce toxic food. Farmers are simply using the tools and methods developed by horticulturists and agronomists to the best of their ability and following USDA recommendations built on a business model that is actually quite antiquated. Anyone who thinks farmers actually want to spend all that money on nitrogen ferts and pesticides simply doesn't understand farming at all.

You have to understand, there was a time when we needed to free up man power to fill the cities, to provided labor for factories and war. If you take a population from one with 52% of the population in agriculture, and reduce it to where 2% can now farm the same land, then you effectively just doubled the population and power of your country in a very short period of time. That's what happened, and it wasn't an accident. That's also why haber process nitrogen was so important. We needed to have a peacetime use for the chemicals needed to produce explosives. So if war came, we had the manufacturing capacity to produce the materials and labor for war at a moments notice, without starving the population at the same time. It was a legitimate concern. Then during the cold war, corn and wheat was also used as a political tool as well. Also a legitimate concern.

The world has changed a lot since then. Unfortunately the antiquated policies, industry and business models are largely entrenched. Now the biggest threat to society is no longer those great wars like WW I and WW II. The biggest threat now is in paying the price those short term policies had on the environment and the ecosystem services degraded as a result of those policies. The carbon cycle causing AGW is but one of the ecosystem services nearing a breaking point, but it is a big one.

The good news is that biology is self healing. Scratch a car and it stays scratched. it even gets worse over time as rust sets in. But scratch your skin and it will heal by itself. Provide some help and it will heal even faster. Ecosystems are no different. Scratch them and they will heal on their own. Help them and they will heal even faster.

Most farmers instinctively know this about their farms. Always have. Even if they don't express it in those terms. They would be MORE than willing to provide that help in healing the land. All that is needed is to remove the antiquated policies that caused it to begin with and teach them how to improve and heal the land as well as the carbon, water, and nutrient cycles, at the same time as make profits. (and BTW we do know how to do it already) Watch how quickly and enthusiastically even large hard nosed conventional farmers will embrace integrating and incorporating methods originally developed by organic science into their conventional business models. And that isn't even really about AGW. The AGW mitigation is merely a beneficial "side effect". Undercover farmers

You do that and the market forces will force agriculture to a new sustainable equilibrium in very short order. Maybe it makes me too much of an optimist, but I truly believe it would happen incredibly rapidly the moment the pressure induced by those policies are removed. As fast or faster than it happened in Cuba, and without making anyone go hungry. Unfortunately we have become a society of Luddites and the new Luddites are VERY much more powerful. They will not let those policies change without a fight.
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Old 21st January 2014, 01:54 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
If it was just market forces there would be no problem to begin with. The problem isn't market forces. The problem is the government subsidizing unsustainable and polluting practices on purpose. That goes for energy as well as agriculture. As I said, it is a house divided.

It has always been my contention that farmers are the most concerned about soil health, animal welfare, pollution, nutrient and water cycles etc... The question therefore isn't whether farmers will do the right thing or not, the question is whether farmers will be given the information and tools to do the right thing. No farmer wants to destroy his land. No farmer wants all his animals sick and miserable. No farmer wants to produce toxic food. Farmers are simply using the tools and methods developed by horticulturists and agronomists to the best of their ability and following USDA recommendations built on a business model that is actually quite antiquated. Anyone who thinks farmers actually want to spend all that money on nitrogen ferts and pesticides simply doesn't understand farming at all.

You have to understand, there was a time when we needed to free up man power to fill the cities, to provided labor for factories and war. If you take a population from one with 52% of the population in agriculture, and reduce it to where 2% can now farm the same land, then you effectively just doubled the population and power of your country in a very short period of time. That's what happened, and it wasn't an accident. That's also why haber process nitrogen was so important. We needed to have a peacetime use for the chemicals needed to produce explosives. So if war came, we had the manufacturing capacity to produce the materials and labor for war at a moments notice, without starving the population at the same time. It was a legitimate concern. Then during the cold war, corn and wheat was also used as a political tool as well. Also a legitimate concern.

The world has changed a lot since then. Unfortunately the antiquated policies, industry and business models are largely entrenched. Now the biggest threat to society is no longer those great wars like WW I and WW II. The biggest threat now is in paying the price those short term policies had on the environment and the ecosystem services degraded as a result of those policies. The carbon cycle causing AGW is but one of the ecosystem services nearing a breaking point, but it is a big one.

The good news is that biology is self healing. Scratch a car and it stays scratched. it even gets worse over time as rust sets in. But scratch your skin and it will heal by itself. Provide some help and it will heal even faster. Ecosystems are no different. Scratch them and they will heal on their own. Help them and they will heal even faster.

Most farmers instinctively know this about their farms. Always have. Even if they don't express it in those terms. They would be MORE than willing to provide that help in healing the land. All that is needed is to remove the antiquated policies that caused it to begin with and teach them how to improve and heal the land as well as the carbon, water, and nutrient cycles, at the same time as make profits. (and BTW we do know how to do it already) Watch how quickly and enthusiastically even large hard nosed conventional farmers will embrace integrating and incorporating methods originally developed by organic science into their conventional business models. And that isn't even really about AGW. The AGW mitigation is merely a beneficial "side effect". Undercover farmers

You do that and the market forces will force agriculture to a new sustainable equilibrium in very short order. Maybe it makes me too much of an optimist, but I truly believe it would happen incredibly rapidly the moment the pressure induced by those policies are removed. As fast or faster than it happened in Cuba, and without making anyone go hungry. Unfortunately we have become a society of Luddites and the new Luddites are VERY much more powerful. They will not let those policies change without a fight.
Well said
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Old 21st January 2014, 08:15 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by !Kaggen View Post
Well said
Most emotional appeals are moving, unfortunately, I don't think such an approach will prove effective in getting a critical mass of people or politicians (note the distinction) to act in a manner that will be sufficient to thwart the loss of life and treasure of a magnitude that could easily bring about an extended Dark Ages for our civilization.
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Old 24th January 2014, 10:53 PM   #36
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http://modernfarmer.com/2014/01/two-...iled-business/
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Old 25th January 2014, 06:14 AM   #37
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Was too tired to comment on the link above

Quote:
In the spring of 2012, two students at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, surprised their landlord with an unusual request from a pair of college kids. Sam Frere and Dan Warren lived in one of those sprawling old houses converted to a college rental, and they’d come up with a plan to turn up every last bit of its front, back and side yards into a farm.

When their landlord OK’d the idea, they moved ahead full-throttle with their scheme. Before long, the bedraggled patch of grass out front erupted into a forest of sunflowers, kale, basil and melons. Around the side, their tomatoes went berserk on a regimen of vermicompost that Frere and Warren harvested from their worm colony in the basement. They had onions, carrots, pole beans, squash and much, much more, with big ambitions to match. The two had bonded as freshmen over an intense interest in innovative horticulture and planned to earn full-time livings farming less than a tenth of an acre.

Frere and Warren named their farm Collicello Gardens after their street (I live a few blocks down; I got to know them after the farm caught my attention and I started writing about it on my own blog). They began selling their produce through a CSA, and in their first year, got up to 11 customers. They also claimed confidently that, with succession planting, clever use of vertical space and other bio-intensive techniques, they’d be able to supply several dozen customers with weekly produce deliveries and be raking in a handsome amount of money.
http://modernfarmer.com/2014/01/two-...iled-business/

Maybe we will see detroit as the new vertical farming capital of the midwest....I dare say and acre there is cheap
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Old 25th January 2014, 07:19 AM   #38
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@macdoc,
To use that example and still fit the topic of the thread....... Intensively farming such a small area requires heavy inputs and rapidly burns off the natural fertility of the soil. "Natural fertility" may seem somewhat vague, but in essence, the carbon in the soil acts like a sponge, locking the nutrients needed for plant growth.

Those kids "unlocked" that fertility and had a blaze of growth in 2 years, that then overwhelmed the system. They would have either lost fertility or have been required to replace it with massive inputs of fertilizers and carbon. That costs money and takes a lot of effort/energy. In essence they took grass which is a carbon sink and went to a sort of farming/gardening that made the land a carbon emissions source.

On the other hand, likely their veggies displaced commercially grown veggies that for the most part are also grown in such a way as to be an even bigger emissions source. The article doesn't mention how they were replacing that fertility beyond the vermiculture. It would take an analysis with quite a bit more data to figure out if the concept scaled up would yield a net carbon benefit or not. My guess is not much, if any.

I am working on a low input experimental system that is a net carbon sink and profitable and scale-able to any size from garden to full size farm. Last year I managed to prove it works at the scale of 1/10th an acre. This year I am planning the expansion to 1-2 acres. (with proper documentation of the data needed) With-in 5 years I hope to have it ready for 1 section (640 acres) trialing. We will see. I wouldn't even try to make claims yet on a untested project, especially on a skeptics forum!
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Old 25th January 2014, 08:13 AM   #39
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A very large part of the carbon footprint for food tho is transportation and what Cuba did was intense composting as well to maintain fertility.

There is certainly abundant composting material in any city and many cities have the resulting compost for free.

The big gain is not having to transport.....fertility is easier.

Cuba turned 1 calorie of food needing 12 calories of fossil fuel to produce and transport to completely inverted.

12 calories of food per calorie of fossil fuel.

They almost starved doing so but that's thanks to idiotic policies by the US.

There are villages in China that have been really closed cycle for thousands of years and feed thousands with fish ponds and careful management of the nutrient chains to maximize re-use.

Some practices not acceptable by wimpy westerners.

http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/x6945e/x6945e09.htm

and extending further

Quote:
Aquaponics
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


A small, portable aquaponics system. The term aquaponics is a portmanteau of the terms aquaculture and hydroponic.
Aquaponics /ˈζkwəˈpɒnɨks/, is a food production system that combines conventional aquaculture, (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks), with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. In normal aquaculture, excretions from the animals being raised can accumulate in the water, increasing toxicity. In an aquaponic system, water from an aquaculture system is fed to a hydroponic system where the by-products are broken down by nitrogen-fixing bacteria into nitrates and nitrites, which are utilized by the plants as nutrients. The water is then recirculated back to the aquaculture system.
As existing hydroponic and aquaculture farming techniques form the basis for all aquaponics systems, the size, complexity, and types of foods grown in an aquaponics system can vary as much as any system found in either distinct farming discipline.[1]
Contents [hide]
1 History
2 Components
2.1 Plants: hydroponics
2.2 Animals: aquaculture
2.3 Bacteria
3 Operation
3.1 Feed source
3.2 Water usage
3.3 Energy usage
4 See also
5 References
6 External links
History[edit]

Further information: Historical hydroculture
Aquaponics has ancient roots, although there is some debate on its first occurrence:
Aztec cultivated agricultural islands known as chinampas in a system considered by some to be the first form of aquaponics for agricultural use[2][3] where plants were raised on stationary (and sometime movable) islands in lake shallows and waste materials dredged from the Chinampa canals and surrounding cities were used to manually irrigate the plants.[2][4]
South China, Thailand, and Indonesia who cultivated and farmed rice in paddy fields in combination with fish are cited as examples of early aquaponics systems.[5] These polycultural farming systems existed in many Far Eastern countries and raised fish such as the oriental loach (泥鳅, ドジョウ),[6] swamp eel (黄鳝, 田鰻), Common (鯉魚, コイ) and crucian carp (鯽魚) [7] as well as pond snails (田螺) in the paddies.[8][9]
Floating aquaponics systems on polycultural fish ponds were installed in China in more recent years on a large scale growing rice, wheat and canna lily and other crops,[10] with some installations exceeding 2.5 acres (10,000 m2).[11]
more
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquaponics

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Old 25th January 2014, 11:21 AM   #40
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@Mac
I have looked at aquaculture a bit. Just not enough to express an opinion yet. Mostly because it isn't workable on the land I have available to me right now. Oklahoma isn't exactly the land of plentiful lakes and streams. So right now I am working on conserving every drop of water I can. It turns out a 1% increase in soil organic carbon causes a 2% to >5% increase in soil available water-holding capacity, depending on the soil texture. [1]
Combine that with cover on the soil at all times, and you dramatically reduce the need for irrigation and/or rain. Less water use means less leaching. But it is compounded by the fact that on top of the increased absorption of water in carbon rich soils, humus also has an ability to adsorb nutrients due to its Cation Exchange properties. [2]
Here is the brilliant part! Pay close attention. The crop can use these nutrients by exchanging free hydrogen ions. The free hydrogen H+ fills the (-) site and allows the cation nutrient to be absorbed by the root or microorganism. This is exchange is facilitated in large part by the symbiotic relationship between mycorrhizal fungi and their host plants. Plants can literally control the fungi and request the nutrients it needs for growth. It then pays for that delivery system by feeding the fungi with sugars![3][4] Sugars are of course carbon based! The soil biology feeds on that with the ultimate waste product being more humus. Some of that microbiology is nitrogen fixing too![5] Bingo! There is now a positive feedback system powered by solar energy, pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere and sequestering it in the soil!
We get many benefits from this.
1) Higher effective water use.
2) Less leaching and more efficient use of nutrients in the soil
3) A self fertilizing system that needs minimal outside inputs
4) CO2 sequestration, reducing the AGW pressure
5) Increased productivity of crops providing food and fiber for human use

In principle it is all there. I can see it as clearly as I see my keyboard. Problem being that it is very tricky getting the balance just right in the field in a way that is actually profitable for the farmer. Many have tried, most have failed to one degree or another. Either they keep productivity up, but loose profitability. Or they keep productivity and profitability up but need ever increasing inputs. Or they keep inputs low, but loose productivity. Or they can do it small to medium scale but can't manage to scale it up to full sized commercial. The ways it won't work are too many to count! We are getting close though. Already there are breakthroughs that have solved the balance with animal husbandry. I would love to one day come on the forum and proudly proclaim I solved the crop side of the equation as well. I can't do that yet though. Sorry to say. What is already proven though is that we can make huge improvements on the conventional industrial ag business model already. Maybe already even enough to stop or delay the AGW crisis, if done on enough acreage. Most the sudies saying it isn't possible are using a current ag model. I would agree. Without changing the model it probably is impossible. Change the model........?
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Biome Carbon Cycle Management

Last edited by Red Baron Farms; 25th January 2014 at 11:45 AM. Reason: add references
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