D&R Greenway Land Trust is joining with its newest partner in preservation, Soil Carbon Partners (SCP), to launch The Climate Project at St. Michaels Preserve in Hopewell Township.
Beginning mid-month, this innovative project combines organic agriculture with soil improvements to test whether they will significantly enhance nutritional content of food while sequestering carbon to mitigate climate change, according to information provided by D&R.
The SCP team will add a special mix of naturally occurring minerals, organic matter and beneficial soil microbes to 60 acres of farm fields on St. Michaels Farm, replicating the healthy ecosystem that nourished buffalo on Western prairies, according to the statement. Native grasses and forage crops will nourish a small herd of fully grass-fed cattle, enhancing the bucolic nature of the D&R Greenway preserve.
“We know that natural pasture-based grazing systems historically sequestered hundreds of billions of tons of atmospheric carbon in soil throughout the great Plains of the U.S., Canada and other countries,” Ed Huling of SCP said in the statement. “Our regenerative farming system is modeled upon these natural grazing models to help address the climate crises threatening us all.”
Independent scientists from Princeton University and other climate-focused institutions will rigorously measure the health of soil, grasses and cattle. The farming methods used by SCP are expected to increase plant growth and photosynthesis, in turn increasing the amount of carbon that plants extract from the air and transfer to the soil as stored, or sequestered carbon, according to the statement.
Sequestering carbon in farmland is increasingly being recognized as a key strategy in slowing temperature-rise and climate change.
Peter Dawson, chair of the Board of Trustees of D&R Greenway, said in the statement, “This research project shows our commitment to endorsing regenerative agricultural practices that are both good business practice and protective of the environment. Throughout, we will continue to ensure community access and enjoyment of the St. Michaels Farm Preserve’s trails and gardens.”
During the Climate Project, St. Michaels Farm Preserve trails will remain open.
Double Brook Farm will continue as a community partner, farming the fields above the Charles Evans Overlook.
As always, for safety’s sake, hikers are asked not to open gates or enter any gated farm fields, and to refrain from petting or feeding the animals, while enjoying them from a distance, according to the statement.
The research project will begin on or around April 15. There will be no noticeable disturbances from this project with the exception of occasional truck deliveries of organic and all-natural components of the soil nutrition blend within the first few weeks, according to the statement.
Scientific advisors on the project include Dr. Eric Bishop Von Wettberg, Gund Fellow, associate professor of Plant and Soil Science, University of Vermont; and Dr. Daniel Rubenstein, professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University.
Linda Mead, president and CEO of D&R Greenway Land Trust, is enthusiastic about the project’s potential.
“From the beginning, St. Michaels Farm Preserve has been a model of grassroots-led preservation. We are intrigued to partner on this innovative research project that could make a substantial difference on the country’s approach to climate change. Lessons learned and techniques proven on our St. Michaels Farm Preserve could be a model that can be replicated across the country by farmers and land trusts. Over time, our local effort could result in national, even global impacts,” she said in the statement.
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