Climate Beneficial Agriculture

Resource Conservation Districts around the state, including MCRCD, are working with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS), University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), the Carbon Cycle Institute, and other agencies and organizations to engage agricultural operators in becoming ecosystem stewards to provide on-farm ecological benefits, improve agricultural productivity, enhance agroecosystem resilience, and mitigate global climate change through a planning and implementation process known as “Carbon Farming.”

Carbon can be beneficially stored long-term (decades to centuries or more) in soils and vegetation through biological carbon sequestration. Carbon Farming involves implementing on-farm practices that:

  • decrease the production of greenhouse gases on farm, and/or,
  • increase the rate at which the farm supports photosynthetically-driven transfer of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to plant productivity and/or soil organic matter.

Enhancing agroecosystem carbon, whether in plants or soils, results in beneficial changes in other system attributes, including soil water holding capacity and hydrological function, biodiversity, soil fertility, ecosystem resilience and agricultural productivity.

Carbon Farming involves implementing conservation practices that are known to improve the rate at which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and converted to plant material and/or soil organic matter. Carbon farming is successful when carbon gains, resulting from enhanced land management and/or conservation practices, exceed carbon losses.

Soil Practices

  • Compost Application (CDFA)
  • Conservation Cover (USDA NRCS CPS 327)
  • Cover Crop (USDA NRCS CPS 340)
  • Filter Strip (USDA NRCS CPS 393)
  • Hedgerow Planting (USDA NRCS CPS 422)
  • Mulching (USDA NRCS CPS 484)
  • Nutrient Management (USDA NRCS CPS 590) (15% reduction in fertilizer application only)
  • Residue and Tillage Management –No-Till (USDA NRCS CPS 329)
  • Residue and Tillage Management −Reduced Till (USDA NRCS CPS 345)
  • Windbreak/Shelterbelt Establishment (USDA NRCS CPS 380)

Water Practices

  • Combustion System Improvement (USDA NRCS CPS 372)
  • Irrigation Pipeline (USDA NRCS CPS 430)
  • Irrigation Reservoir (USDA NRCS CPS 436)
  • Irrigation System, Microirrigation (USDA NRCS CPS 441)
  • Sprinkler System (USDA NRCS CPS 442)
  • Irrigation Water Management (USDA NRCS CPS 449)
  • Pumping Plant (USDA NRCS CPS 553)
  • Water Harvesting Catchment (USDA NRCS CPS 636)