By Kevin Alexander Watt
This month TomKat Ranch had the pleasure of hosting 18 of California’s Resource Conservation Districts (RCD) for a workshop on Carbon Farm Planning in partnership with San Mateo County’s RCD and the Carbon Cycle Institute.
RCDs are an important partner in our effort to grow a regenerative food system. Established during the Dust Bowl as a special, non-regulatory form of local government, they serve as critical hubs connecting conservation, agriculture, and landowners with financial and educational assistance to care for the land.
Carbon Farm Planning is a tool that builds on traditional conservation planning to help ranchers and farmers reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration through strategies to increase soil health and the resilience of their ranch businesses especially during extreme weather conditions like drought.
Last year, the San Mateo County RCD worked with TomKat Ranch staff and partners at Point Blue Conservation Science to write the county’s first Carbon Farm Plan. The plan identified a range of opportunities for sequestering carbon on the ranch like integrating goats and sheep to help control brush and keep our grassland plant communities diverse and proposing new areas for potential riparian restoration. Coupled with our existing conservation plan made with Point Blue that guides our work care for the diverse wildlife and vegetation communities on the ranch, the Carbon Farm Plan helped our team create an even more effective grazing and land management plan.
We hope increased access and adoption of Carbon Farm Plans will continue in California and beyond as these plans can be valuable tools for ranchers and farmers interested in increasing the productivity and resilience of their lands, while also demonstrating to consumers and regulators the positive role agriculture can play in promoting a stable climate.