Get Paid For Building Soil – Carbon Sequestration

Carbon is black. Dark soil has lots of carbon in it. Light soil does not. We all know that darker soil is more fertile, holds more water, etc. When we manage our land well and build topsoil/organic matter we are actually taking Carbon Dioxide out of the atmosphere and storing it in the soil, where it provides many benefits to us (called “carbon sequestration”).


Not only is carbon sequestration good for us as producers (because it increases the productivity of our land) it is also has many people and organizations who are concerned about climate change/global warming very exited. Excess Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere is reported to be the primary cause of global warming. When this Carbon Dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and stored in the soil it no longer causes global warming.

As most of you will be well aware of, there are vast numbers of people worldwide who are VERY concerned about global warming (including most governments, international organizations, etc.), and are doing anything they can think of to stop it.  These groups have developed an international system whereby people, organizations, companies, or entire nations can pay money to sequester carbon and offset their CO2 emissions. These carbon-offsetting business are making BILLIONS of dollars… there is a real demand, and there has been for many years.

International Climate Change Conference

How does all this relate to us as Holistic Managers in Canada? Well it turns out that well managed livestock grazing (following the planned grazing process, short grazing period, long recovery, etc) actually sequesters carbon faster than any other land use known to man (natural forests don’t even come close!). I have done research on this topic and found a few reputable measurements of how fast Holistically Managed livestock can sequester carbon. Most of the measurements I found were in dry areas, and so were rather low (1.7 tonnes of carbon/acre/year was the average)….

Using this rate of carbon sequestration I have calculated that Global Warming could be completely reversed in around 10 years if all crop and livestock producers worldwide were to implement Planned Grazing on their land!



However, even more exiting than that, Certified Educator Blain Hjertaas and a group called the “Soil Carbon Coalition” have been doing carbon sequestration tests on various Holistic Ranches around western Canada and have discovered that many Canadian ranchers are sequestering between 5 and 10 tonnes of carbon on every acre every year! That is after the methane emissions of their livestock have been accounted for…

This is a huge untapped income source:

  1. If you are a Canadian livestock manager doing a good job with your grazing then you can reasonably expect that you are sequestering about 5 tonnes of carbon/acre/year on your operation. (if you would like to measure the carbon sequestration on your land contact the Soil Carbon Coalition)
  2. In 2016 Canadian people and companies looking to offset their carbon emissions will be paying an average of $20/tonne of carbon. 
  3. That is a total of around $100/acre/year of extra income which could be going into the pockets of Canadian Holistic Managers!

Now, just to be clear there is currently no way for Canadian Holistic Managers to get paid for their carbon sequestration. This is because the climate change and carbon sequestration community does not yet recognize Holistically Managed Grazing as a legitimate way to sequester carbon. It will be a difficult journey to get to the point where Canadian Holistic Managers are being paid for the services they are providing (carbon sequestration which reverses global warming, increases soil health) but I know we can get there if we work together.

Mexico Comparison

Steps to getting paid for Carbon Sequestration:

  1. We need more peer-reviewed studies documenting the carbon sequestration being accomplished by Holistic ranchers in Canada. Without peer-reviewed studies no one in the climate change movement, academia, or in the government will take our claims seriously. You can potentially help with this by starting to measure the carbon sequestration happening on your own land, contact the Soil Carbon Coalition for info on how to do that.
  2. We need more public outreach about this aspect of Holistic Management. Right now the public thinks livestock are bad for the environment. With public opinion like it is, no company will pay us for carbon sequestration because in doing so they would instantly make enemies of the majority of environmentally-minded Canadians. We need to be vocal about the dramatic differences between Holistically Managed livestock and livestock that are continuously grazed or in factory farms. Talk to your friends, post on Facebook, go on TV, go on the radio, etc. Share the benefits of Holistically Managed Livestock wherever you can!
  3.  After steps 1 and 2 are completed, we need a company to actually handle the logistics of selling our carbon sequestration services to others. This could be accomplished either through a partnership with an existing carbon-offset company, or through the creation of a new company.

Contact us if you have any ideas about how to accomplish these goals!

Thanks for reading, share this information with your friends,

~Sheldon Frith


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