Carbon Sequestration in Glacial Sand Soils in Haying, Cropping, and Soil Building Practices

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2023: $27,843.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2026
Grant Recipient: Pitney Meadows Community Farm
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Ian Magnus
Pitney Meadows Community Farm


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: cover crops, no-till, other
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: composting, green manures, organic matter, soil microbiology

    Proposal summary:

    Pitney Meadows Community Farm (PMCF) was acquired in 2016 by a non-profit organization that guarantees its continued use as a farm with a conservation easement. Our mission is to grow food for the community and involve the public with their soils and food supply through educational and agricultural programming. Approximately 15 acres of the 166 acre property are currently in production. It is the last active farm in the City of Saratoga Springs, N.Y.


    We have identified low soil Carbon/Organic Matter levels and low soil biological activity as factors limiting the productivity of our soils. We propose to use areas not currently in production to conduct additions of compost and cover crops, either minimally or normally tilled in, to determine the most effective way to increase soil Carbon and biological activity in our sandy soils in Haying, Cropping, and Soil Building modalities. We will measure soil Carbon and OM levels in the Cropping trial plots before spring planting and after fall harvest to determine the crop depletion of Carbon/OM stores. The results will be used to design a long-term plan to restore soil Carbon levels to a desirable level while continuing active production.


    Because part of our mission is outreach and education, we will involve volunteers in this project and share the results with area farmers, many of whom have soils similar to ours. We currently have numerous active educational programs, a large volunteer base, and farms that sell their products through our farm stand.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project seeks to:


    Objective 1) Determine the rate that using cover crops and applying compost (made from the materials available to us) will increase soil Carbon/OM and soil biology in our system of haying, cropping, and soil building. And to determine whether long-term storage capacity is affected by tilling in these materials rather than leaving them at the surface.


    Objective 2) Determine the rate at which our current uses of the property (various crops and hay) deplete soil Carbon/OM.


    Objective 3) Design a long-term management plan for restoring and then maintaining soil Carbon/OM and biological activity in our farm soil ecosystem, including cropping patterns, resting periods, and soil treatments. This information will be available to other farms to use in developing their practices.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.