Soil Carbon Capture for Diverse Farmers

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2020: $30,000.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2021
Grant Recipient: Soul Fire Farm Institute, Inc.
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Leah Penniman
Soul Fire Farm Institute, Inc.

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Animal Production: rangeland/pasture management
  • Crop Production: agroforestry, no-till, nutrient cycling, silvopasture
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, participatory research
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, soil chemistry, soil microbiology, soil physics, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change

    Proposal abstract:

    As European settlers displaced Indigenous people across North America in the 1800s, they exposed vast expanses of land to the plow for the first time. It took only a few decades of intense tillage to drive around 50 percent of the original organic matter from the soil into the sky as carbon dioxide. Agriculture continues to have a profound impact on the climate; along with forestry, deforestation, and other land use, it contributes roughly 24 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. 

    The good news is that regenerative agricultural practices like minimal soil disturbance, organic production, compost application, the use of cover crops, and crop rotation as well as silvopasture systems that integrate nut and fruit trees, forage, and grasses can harness plants and soil to put carbon back where it belongs. 

    Farmworkers and farmers of color are working together to test the best methods for on-farm soil carbon capture and the most accessible protocols for measuring progress. We are engaging 5 different farms to implement soil carbon capture methods such as no till, silvopasture, and perennial polyculture. We will do a side-by-side comparison of on-farm carbon capture tools such as a microbiometer and solvita respiration test to determine the most accessible and reliable methods for determining progress. Results will be disseminated in English and Spanish. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous and other farmers and farm workers of color take the lead in testing soil carbon sequestration strategies and measurement protocols and disseminate those findings to the farming community in both English and Spanish. This project seeks to (1) determine which soil testing protocols farmers find most accessible, understandable, and replicable (2) determine whether engaging directly in testing protocols increases farmer knowledge of and engagement with the project of soil carbon sequestration, and (3) determine how can we effectively communicate testing protocols for soil organic carbon and strategies for soil carbon sequestration to the Spanish-speaking farming community and to farmers of color across the Northeast (4) establish baseline data on soil carbon and regenerative farming techniques so that conclusions may be drawn in subsequent years about any correlation between soil carbon capture and farming practices. 

    This project will benefit farmers by increasing strategies for on-farm soil carbon sequestration, an important ecosystem service. It will particularly benefit farmers who tend to have less access to this information, Spanish speaking farm-workers and farmers of color. 

    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.