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Range Science and Range Management: Finding Common Ground ~ John Wick, Jeff Creque, Marin Carbon Project, California






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Range Science and Range Management: Finding Common Ground ~ John Wick, Jeff Creque, Marin Carbon Project, California Range Science and Range Management: Finding Common Ground ~ John Wick, Jeff Creque, Marin Carbon Project, California Presentation Transcript

  • The Marin Carbon Project John Wick, Director Jeff Creque Ph.D., Co-founder Range Science and Range Management: Finding Common Ground
  • 100,000 ACRES, NO FENCES: Calif. D.F.G.
  • Blue Wildrye (Elymus glaucus)
  • California Brome (Bromus carinatus)
  • California Brome (Bromus carinatus)
  • Idaho Fescue (Festuca idahoensis)
  • Meadow Barley (Hordeum brachyantherum)
  • Darren Doherty, Australian Keyline Expert “A 1.6% increase of the organic matter in the soils of all the arable lands on Earth would stop and reverse global warming within a decade.”
  • Vegetation 500 Soils 2,000 Units: Gt 1 Gt = 1 Pg = 101 THE GLOBAL CARBON CYCLE
  • Can we market the carbon that we thought that we were adding to the soil?
  • The question was, how to measure soil carbon in order to market it? Is there an accepted protocol for measuring and verifying carbon sequestered in rangeland soil?
  • We contacted UCB, where we met Prof. Whendee Silver, who was already working with SOC in tropical soil systems, and she expressed an interest in working with us.
  • We convened a meeting with the regional agricultural agencies, organizations, institutions and experts.
  • Is it possible to sequester atmospheric Carbon in Marin’s rangeland soils?
  • How much C is in Marin soil? Marin Carbon Project Phase I: • A regional soil carbon survey • Collect soil to 1 meter depth from 35 sites in Marin and Sonoma • Analyze soil for carbon, nitrogen, pH, texture, and carbon fractions. • Determine if patterns in soil carbon pools exist with soil chemical and physical properties, environmental conditions and/ or management.
  • We sampled 35 sites that were typical of land under management in our area; beef and dairy pasture.
  • The regional analysis also showed a wide range in soil C pools 400 Soils Carbon (Mg/ha) to 1 m depth 300 200 100 0 Ranked Site
  • The soil survey established that our soils have a range from 14.5 tons/acre to 62.5 tons/acre.
  • On average Marin soils appear to be in the mid range of California rangelands Cumulative Soil Carbon (Mg ha-1) 300 Literature data From California rangelands 200 Average soil C for Marin/ Sonoma Counties 100 0 0 100 200 300 400 Depth (cm)
  • Organic amendments increased soil carbon by 50 Mg C ha-1 in the top meter of soil Extensive Intensive (organic 50 Soil Carbon (Mg/ha) amendments) 300 Soil Carbon (Mg/ha) to 1 m depth 40 200 30 20 100 10 0 0 0-10 10-30 30-50 50-100 Extensive Intensive Depth (cm)
  • Fields that had a history of manure application had significantly higher carbon than adjacent fields without the manure.
  • Conclusion: Management, specifically organic amendments, can enhance soil carbon sequestration. Surprise?
  • We decided to look deeper into the carbon consequences of current practices of local land managers: 1) grazing 2) organic amendments (we used compost instead of manure) Plus we were curious about the benefit of using the Yeomans plow. We designed controlled experiments to measure the carbon consequences of each of these practices.
  • Compost significantly increased forage production Aboveground biomass (Mt C ha-2) 3.5 3.0 2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 0 Control Compost Control Compost 2009 2010 Browns Valley, Ryals and Silver in prep
  • • The result of applying 14 tons of C/ha as compost was an increase in soil carbon of over 14.8 Mg C/ha in year 1, • Net gain, beyond compost additions was approx. 1 Mg C/ha. • Control plot soils lost carbon in the same time period. Assumptions: Heterotrophic respiration = 50% of total Root biomass = shoot biomass No difference in grazed/ungrazed biomass
  • Above Ground Biomass, End of Year One 1500 C m-2 t-1) 1000 Net Change (g 500 0 -500 Compost Control Nicasio, Ryals and Silver in prep
  • • The first year, on two sites in California, we added almost 15 tons of carbon per ha. • There were no methane or nitrous oxide emissions. • We did this by applying a 1/2” layer of compost over the standing vegetation. • It was easy to do and relatively cheap. • It increased forage by 1 ton per acre. • It buffered temperatures 10ºC. • It held more water in the soil.
  • California Rangelands and Carbon Sequestration 23 million hectares of rangeland statewide Assume 50% available for C sequestration At a rate of 1 MT C ha-1 y-1 = 42 MMT CO2e/y At a rate of 5 MT C ha-1 y-1 = 211 MMT CO2e/y At a rate of 10 MT C ha-1 y-1 = 422 MMT CO e/y 2 •Livestock ~ 15 MMT CO2e/y •Commercial/residential ~ 41 MMT Units: CO2e/y Hectare = 2 .45 acres MT = Metric ton •Transportation emits ~188 MMT CO2e/y MMT= Million metric tons CO2e = CO2 equivalents MT=Mg=Metric ton •Electrical generation ~109 MMT CO2e/y
  • Grasslands cover a significant portion of the Earth’s land surface *30% of global land surface *Over half of the global land use *33% of the US land area *56% of California land area
  • Why General Systems Theory? • Ecosystem Science – A theoretical framework for the science of ecosystem management. • Ecosystem Management – A theoretical framework identifying management practices that sequester carbon in soils, and how.
  • General Systems Theory • GST suggests that we can manage ecosystems through the manipulation of positive and negative feedback processes.
  • System Behavior • GST suggests systems are either changing or remaining the same. • System change is driven by deviation amplifying positive feedbacks • System stasis is maintained by deviation dampening negative feedbacks.
  • “negative feedback” or deviation-dampening system processes.
  • For 400,000 years, atmospheric CO2 was essentially at homeostasis, maintained by the deviation dampening negative feedback of annual vegetation growth and senescence. http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/graphics/vostok.co2.gif
  • Northern Deciduous Forest Annual CO2 Flux
  • Arctic September Ice 1980 and 2010 (Pattern Driving Process)
  • Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased dramatically in the last 50 to 100 years, driven by deviation amplifying positive feedbacks initiated by 390 human activity (land use, fossil fuel combustion, Atmospheric CO 2 (ppmv) 380 warfare, etc. ) 370 360 350 340 330 320 310 Year Keeling Curve
  • General Systems Theory • To reverse the Keeling curve, caused by deviation amplifying positive feedbacks resulting in increases in atmospheric CO2, we must initiate a deviation amplifying positive feedback process that drives the CO2 curve in the opposite direction.
  • How do we initiate, stop or reverse deviation amplifying positive feedback processes at the system level?
  • Eg: Gully Formation and Repair • Gullies are a classic example of a deviation- amplifying feedback cycle. As a gully begins to form, the way in which water moves over the land begins to change, with the effect of further deepening and widening the gully.
  • • As gullies deepen and widen, they can lower the base level within drainage basins. As the base level drops due to gully incision, the potential energy of any water flowing into the gully increases, which further drives gully formation.
  • • As channel walls erode, the gully widens and begins to receive more direct rainfall. A wider gully holds more water and therefore can cut more deeply.
  • • We see a cascade of deviation-amplifying events that act as positive feedbacks to form deeper and wider gullies; • Until some new homeostasis is reached.
  • • Good News • Deviation amplifying positive feedbacks can also reverse the process!
  • Gully Restoration • By introducing energy dissipating structure in the form of willow and dogwood, and the structure of the gully itself (Zeedyk and Clothier, 2009), hydrological conditions improve, supporting further vegetation establishment, slowing the water, dropping out the sediments, aggrading the gully floor, fanning out the water and re-hydrating the xerified landscape. The water level rises, water-loving plants move back in, catch more sediment, and the system begins to re-build itself, as each step fosters the next. • And, as the productivity of the system increases, recovering wetlands are great sinks for carbon.
  • • Organic amendments increased system carbon by over 14.8 Mg C/ha in year 1. • Net gain, beyond compost additions was approx. 0.8 Mg C/ha.
  • Above Ground Biomass, End of Year One 1500 C m-2 t-1) 1000 Net Change (g 500 0 -500 Compost Control Nicasio, Ryals and Silver in prep
  • Compost is great, but spreading compost everywhere is not an option; What can we do to initiate a deviation amplifying positive feedback process that results in the enhanced sequestration of atmospheric CO2 as soil carbon on rangelands globally?
  • Livestock grazing is half of the world’s land use.
  • Can we use livestock impacts to initiate deviation amplifying positive feedbacks to drive the system in the desired direction?
  • Disturbance Drives System Change We can manage system change by managing the scale of disturbance
  • SCALE of DISTURBANCE Space, Time and Magnitude: The area of land The amount of time The number of animals
  • Disturbance-driven System Change GRAZING EVENT GRASS SOIL CARBON
  • Question: Is this why “grazing systems” (sometimes) work, and (sometimes) don’t? Does this resolve the “Range Debate?”
  • Focus on Soil Carbon as an Indicator of System Change
  • Hypothetical effect of deviation amplifying positive feedback resulting from Soil Carbon increases on global rangelands due to strategically scaled livestock impacts
  • What next for the Marin Carbon Project?
  • Grazing Trials: What does it mean to scale our livestock impacts appropriately in our systems?
  • • We are analyzing the data from the intensive grazing portion of the experiment. • We expect to see a significantly higher rate of sequestration from the high density, short duration, long recovery management… Stay tuned.
  • ?
  • MARIN CARBON PROJECT Jeff Creque, Ph.D. Rangeland Ecologist oecos@earthlink.net John Wick, Nicasio Native Grass Ranch johnwick@sonic.net
  • MARIN C ARBON PROJECT Mission Statement In response to the rapid pace of global climate change caused by human activity, the Marin Carbon Project seeks to enhance carbon sequestration in rangeland, agricultural, and forest soils through applied research, demonstration and implementation. Vision Statement Our vision is to establish land owners and land managers as soil carbon sequest ation champions by providing economical and ecological solutions to r global clima change. te Strategy The Marin Carbon Project, a consortium of agricultural extension, agricultural producer organizations, county and federal agricultural agencies, the resource conservation district, private rangeland consultants, and land manager/ owners, seeks to understand the potential for soil carbon sequestration to mitigate and reverse global climate change. This consortium of agencies and organizations is working together and independently to promote, through applied research and demonstration, enhanced carbon sequestration in Marin’s soils. The consortium also will help facilita development of a carbon market that supports soil carbon te sequest ation efforts on agricultural, forest and rangelands in Marin County and r globally.
  • Questions?
  • Fossil Fuel Emissions: Actual vs. IPCC Scenarios 10 Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center International Energy Agency Fossil Fuel Emission (GtC y ) -1 9 A1B A1FI 8 A1T A2 B1 7 B2 6 5 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2015 Raupach et al. 2007, PNAS, updated; Le Quéré et al. 2009, Nature Geoscience; International Monetary Fund 2009 Source: Global Carbon P
  • The Kneeling Curve 390 Atmospheric CO 2 (ppmv) 380 370 360 350 340 330 320 310 Year
  • High temperature fire
  • System disturbance
  • Disturbances can vary in size in both time and space.
  • Let’s look at gully networks.
  • Soil geomorphic systems (Briske, 2008) throughout the West have been impacted by similar positive feedback scenarios, often associated with extirpation of a keystone species, Castor canadensis, from much of the • region. Photo: Phil Myers, U Michigan, 2003
  • A classic example of a deviation-amplifying feedback cycle.
  • Low temperature fire
  • Cheat grass invasion is not just a plant community change
  • The restoration of wet meadow systems.
  • •Climate Change •The potential to sequester carbon in rangeland soils •The Range “Debate”
  • outline John: What MCP is What MCP Did What MCP found Jeff: What it means (so what?); global context; Climate; C-sequestration; Range debate: can we do it with grazing alone? Keeling curve, GST; negative and positive feedbacks Disturbance as system driver and determinate of + and – change Strategic livestock impacts as system disturbance to increase soil C What do we manage for and how? soil C, native biodiversity, pattern and process John: What I manage for and how
  • Range Science and Range Management: Finding Common Ground
  • • C/N • Gas analyzer, burns soil, measures actual CO2; • Loss by ignition is by weight at constant moisture; not measuring actual C, measuring change in weight only.
  • Disturbance, Pattern, Process • Remember: General Systems Theory suggests – We can manage system processes (photosynthesis, carbon sequestration, etc.) by managing system patterns. (paddocks, plant communities; fuel loads, etc.) – We can manage system patterns by managing system disturbance (grazing, fire, mowing, cultivations, etc). – Disturbances drive system processes
  • • For example, a beaver dam knocks the energy out of flowing water in a stream. Sediments settle out, the water level rises, the floodplain stays moist, moisture-loving vegetation grows, providing even more energy-dissipating structure, and habitat becomes more desirable for beaver. Photo: Phil Myers, Castor canadensis U Michigan, 2003
  • Hypothetical deviation amplifying positive feedback resulting from Soil Carbon increases on global rangelands due to strategically scaled 390 livestock impacts Atmospheric CO 2 (ppmv) 380 370 360 350 340 330 320 310 Year Reversing the Keeling Curve