We are developing a variety of approaches to build healthy soils. Our projects include carbon farming, perennial crops and composting food waste into soil conditioner using insects.
Carbon Farming Experiment, Boulder, CO. (Summer 2017)
Injecting carbon into soils is a very effective approach to building healthy, fertile soils. Rangelands across the world are degraded through overuse and mismanagement. We can help restore this prairie grasslands by priming the ecosystem with compost application, effectively restoring the soil that has been lost through years of mismanagement. We are initiating a research project examining the effects of compost application to degraded rangelands to enhance productivity, soil carbon storage, water and nutrient retention. This project is modeled after the Marin Carbon Project.
Kernza in Colorado, Hudson, CO. (Fall 2017)
Natural ecosystems tend to be stable, diverse and robust, while modern agricultural systems increasingly use monoculture and rely on synthetic support systems to achieve and maintain yield. Moving production systems from annual to perennial crops is one powerful mechanism to avoid high external inputs and soil erosion while building carbon-rich soils through long-term below ground root production. However, perennial grains for staple foods are virtually non-existent. Kernza wheatgrass is the most promising perennial grain available, which was developed at the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas. We are exploring the challenges and benefits of shifting from annual to perennial grain production systems the in shortgrass prairie landscape of Colorado. The global potential of Kernza hinges on widespread examination of its ability to thrive in a variety of climate and soils. The high prairie has less rainfall and less fertile soils compared to Kansas, so we are examined how 4 levels of irrigation affects its establishment, yield and ecosystem benefits of carbon-storage, water holding capacity. We are using Kernza for fodder, distillation of whiskey and selection of best-formers to create a regional seed bank for other growers.