Technical Brief: Estimates for Soil Carbon Drawdown Per Acre from Holistic Planned Grazing and Globally by All Means
Three studies since 2016 of holistic planned grazing, aka adaptive multi-paddock “AMP” grazing, measured soil carbon sequestration rates: 0.9 tonnes of carbon per acre per year, or 0.93 tC/ac/yr (Rowntree 2020), 1.5 tC/ac/yr (Stanley 2018), and 1.2 tC/ac/yr (Teague 2016). These give an average of 1.21 tC/ac/yr, equivalent to 4.44 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per acre per year (4.44 tCO2/ac/yr).
Teague (2016) calculates the potential drawdown for North American pasturelands is 800 million tonnes of carbon per year (800 MtC/yr), or 0.8 gigatons of carbon per year (0.8 GtC/yr).
Thus, peer-reviewed literature estimates that in North America alone nearly a gigaton of carbon (or 3.67 gigatons CO2) can be sequestered (drawn down) per year (based on an estimate of 263 million hectares of North American pastureland). There are approximately 3.3 billion hectares of pastureland worldwide (UN FAO 2020).
Lal (2020) estimates that between 2020 and 2100, soil can sequester 178 PgC, or 178 GtC.
Note: 1 petagram (Pg) = 1 gigaton (Gt)
Thus, 178 gigatons C captured over 80 years yields an average drawdown rate of 2.25 billion tons of carbon per year (2.25 GtC/yr).
Rates Per Acre
Rate: 2.29 MgC/ha/yr (0.93 tC/ac/yr)
Location: Clay County, Georgia, USA
Notes: “multispecies pasture rotation (MSPR) … holistic planned grazing methodology”
Source: Rowntree (2020)
Rate: 3.59 MgC/ha/yr (1.5 tC/ac/yr)
Location: Missaukee County, Michigan, USA
Notes: “AMP grazed pastures”
Source: Stanley (2018)
Rate: 3 tC/ha/yr (1.2 tC/ac/yr)
Location: Cooke, Parker and Jack counties, Texas, USA
Notes: “Adaptive Multi-paddock (AMP) grazing”
Source: Teague (2016)
Lal, R (2020) Managing soils for negative feedback to climate change and positive impact on food and nutritional security, Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, 66:1, 1-9, DOI: 10.1080/00380768.2020.1718548.
Rowntree JE, Stanley PL, Maciel ICF, Thorbecke M, Rosenzweig ST, Hancock DW, Guzman A and Raven MR (2020) Ecosystem Impacts and Productive Capacity of a Multi-Species Pastured Livestock System. Front. Sustain. Food Syst. 4:544984. doi: 10.3389/fsufs.2020.544984
Stanley, P. L., Rowntree, J. E., Beede, D. K., DeLonge, M. S., & Hamm, M. W. (2018). Impacts of soil carbon sequestration on life cycle greenhouse gas emissions in Midwestern USA beef finishing systems. Agricultural Systems, 162, 249-258.
Teague, W. R., Apfelbaum, S., Lal, R., Kreuter, U. P., Rowntree, J., Davies, C. A., R. Conser, M. Rasmussen, J. Hatfield, T. Wang, F. Wang, Byck, P. (2016). The role of ruminants in reducing agriculture's carbon footprint in North America. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 71(2), 156-164. doi:10.2489/jswc.71.2.156
UN FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). 07, May, 2020, Sustainable Agriculture, Land use in agriculture by the numbers.
Managing livestock holistically is the number one way to restore soil and sequester carbon on grassland and savanna ecosystems which coevolved with ruminant herds and occupy approximately 40% of the landed surface of the planet. As environmentalists and climate activists, it is our responsibility to eat food from these cherished regions that is produced in ways which enrich their soil. This will almost always mean animal products brought forth in accordance with ecological principles or vegetable and tree-based foods grown in integration with well-considered livestock husbandry.
In no scenario - none - is fake food, cultured meat, or industrial, glyphosate-sprayed, GMO soy-based and ocean dead zone-expanding, Imposter Foods, or similar patented FrankenFood, a solution for the environment or the climate. To the contrary, they are exactly the convenient, but wrong, approach that exacerbates, not lessons, our reliance on chemicals and industry. Furthermore, and perhaps of greatest significance, they disenfranchise, not empower, the small and medium-sized producers who are the heart and soul of every nation from time immemorial.
It is the responsibility of all concerned citizens to push against this corporate assault on common sense. This Regenuary, Soil4Climate is honored to stand with the heroes of soil-enhancing regenerative agriculture, including organic farmers and holistic ranchers - those who know the smell of compost and sound of calving - those who are doing the most to restore soil and drive back desertification - those who are not just mitigating, but, actually, helping to reverse, global warming, while, simultaneously, producing complete protein, naturally, ethically, and in synch with the rhythms of Mother Earth. God bless them, and God bless humanity.