- Crop Production: agroforestry, alley cropping, continuous cropping, intercropping, no-till, pollinator habitat
- Education and Training: demonstration, mentoring, on-farm/ranch research
- Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, carbon sequestration, habitat enhancement, wildlife
- Pest Management: integrated pest management
- Production Systems: agroecosystems, organic agriculture, permaculture
- Soil Management: soil analysis, soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: community services, quality of life, urban/rural integration
Problem: According to recent climate reports emphasizing rising greenhouse gases, Midwest farmers face more weather extremes (heat, drought, torrential rains, humidity) with more crop diseases and pests coupled with the ongoing extinction of species.
- Ecologically sound land stewardship via carbon farming is best accomplished by understanding and acting upon the complex and interdependent value of ecosystem benefits of agroforestry land management. Carbon farming is a collection of crops and agricultural practices that sequester and store carbon in the soil and perennial vegetation like trees/shrubs. With carbon farming, agriculture is less part of the climate problem and more a critical part of the solution.
- Economically Viable Quantifying carbon farming benefits is necessary to monetize agroforestry. Agroforestry increases product value by providing multiple revenue streams from diversified sources, thereby expanding the definition of yield beyond “pounds per acre” to include soil health, carbon sequestration and storage, as well as a myriad of ecosystem services (natural capital). Farming is extraction, but also production. It prepares farmers to participate in emerging carbon markets.
- Socially Responsible Agriculture and ecosystems are necessary for survival. Agroforestry supports essential life resources (clean air, water, soil) for food production. Our continued existence relies on the preservation and regeneration of healthy biological and ecological systems. Conservation and valuing of ecosystems services can no longer be left to voluntary, undervalued, non-reimbursed chance.
- Measure and increase carbon farming by focusing on the current and potential role of trees/shrubs on the farm.
- Identify, inventory, and map the farm’s existing agroforestry tree/shrub data.
- Analyze and monetize the carbon farming and agroforestry related ecosystem services.
- Design, develop and produce a carbon farming plan that values current agroforestry practices and increases carbon sequestration and storage for regeneration, resilience, diversity, and sustainability.
- Share findings and obtain feedback through marketing, presentations, farm tours, exhibits, posters, apprentice and volunteer mentoring, local newspaper stories, social media, and YouTube.