Carbon Farming in San Diego County

The Carbon Farming Task Force, led by the San Diego County Farm Bureau and Solidarity Farm, brings together producers, researchers, technical assistance providers, policymakers, and funders to develop and advance climate-smart agricultural strategies in the region. 

Carbon sequestration in soils and vegetation is one of the few ways that communities can simultaneously address climate mitigation and climate resilience. Climate-smart agricultural practices (e.g., planting trees and shrubs, using compost and mulch) prevent soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and improve the soil’s ability to absorb and hold water. These benefits conserve critical agricultural resources, support several County-wide efforts, including the County of San Diego Climate Action Plan, and will become increasingly important in the fight against climate change. 

Perennial woody vegetation such as orchard trees have among the highest GHG reduction potential of any cropping systems. As San Diego County loses orchards, it also loses their carbon sequestration services. Moving forward, it will be critical to:

  • Conserve the existing agricultural carbon storage and sequestration by addressing root drivers behind the decline in orchard crops.
  • Collaborate across agencies to facilitate and incentivize key carbon farming practices that have resilience co-benefits, such as composting and riparian restoration, and several others such as cover cropping, mulching, and planting of perennial vegetation.
  • Support new, beginning, young, and BIPOC farmers and ranchers by helping them to succeed in carbon farming and regenerative agriculture.

Climate-smart agricultural practices reflect traditional Indigenous practices that have been used for centuries to conserve resources, protect biodiversity, and create harmony with the land.

In 2019, Pauma Tribal Farms, an 87 acre property co-managed with Solidarity Farm, organized the Carbon Sink Convergence, an event that drew 180 people to learn about re-integrating Indigenous foodways and climate-smart agricultural practices. At the Carbon Sink Demonstration Farm on Pauma Tribal Farms, they have measured an increase in the carbon in their soils from 1% to 4% as a result of planting trees, practicing no till farming, and using compost and cover crops. 

Led by farmers, the Carbon Farming Task Force provides a platform for sharing best practices, identifying research priorities, and working together with others to advance policies in support of carbon farming in San Diego County. 

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