Carbon capture on grass land

JSmith

Member
Livestock Farmer
As carbon capture and foot print are the latest craze was going to incorporate this into a business plan/tender that I might be doing on a block of ground and this is something that would be on the tick list for the landlord! So if I started with four hundred acres of maize stubble that I was going to grass down and plant fodder crops, put hedges back, environmental features and so on... how do I calculate the capturing element of grass and said fodder crops compared to a featureless monoculture maize ground?? When grassland captures carbon does it store it within the root, plant, leaf or??? An if rotationally grazed does this increase the amount of carbon that can be captured, as in the more you graze it the more the regrowth captures?? Do kale an turnips an such like have the same capacity for carbon capturing?? Any suggestions or a link to plain talking explanation gratefully received!! Tia
 

holwellcourtfarm

Member
NFFN Member
As carbon capture and foot print are the latest craze was going to incorporate this into a business plan/tender that I might be doing on a block of ground and this is something that would be on the tick list for the landlord! So if I started with four hundred acres of maize stubble that I was going to grass down and plant fodder crops, put hedges back, environmental features and so on... how do I calculate the capturing element of grass and said fodder crops compared to a featureless monoculture maize ground?? When grassland captures carbon does it store it within the root, plant, leaf or??? An if rotationally grazed does this increase the amount of carbon that can be captured, as in the more you graze it the more the regrowth captures?? Do kale an turnips an such like have the same capacity for carbon capturing?? Any suggestions or a link to plain talking explanation gratefully received!! Tia
A huge area to look at and hard to simplify quickly. If it's been intensive maize you can only do good really, intensive maize is about as bad as it gets (and we used to do it). All of the carbon calculators require soil test results with OM levels so that'd be your baseline, along with a thorough soil and biodiversity assessment. Any suggestions @Sheila Cooke ?

@CornishTone
@Treg
@Samcowman
 

Old Tip

Member
Location
Cumbria
You are on a winner from the start Maize as it’s probably the most unnatural crop we grow in this country and because of the late harvest leads to lots of soil destructio.
under grazed pasture carbon is not real eased by the soil through ploughing and there is no run off and soil loss, natural water movement will reastablish and carbon will be stored in the soil and also in the animals that graze. The main thing to look at is thee local weather patterns and soil types and plant grasses, legumes and herbs that suit that geology and hydrolog, also think about managing holistically so some fields are left to martyred to provide pollen and seed and some are grazed short for ground feeders and nesting waders. Diversity is the key, lots of fields of the same grass and height are nearly as bad as lots of fields of the same crop. This is where the vegan message falls down because to produce a vegan or vegetarian diet is almost impossible without ploughing, soil degradation and mono crops. Ok on an allotment but different at a field scale
 

JSmith

Member
Livestock Farmer
Not got soil samples to hand but the land is poisoned to death with heavy metal contaminates, very light blow away sand so soil structure is very poor as in erosion by wind and rain!! Basically the place is dead, devoid of wild life, above or below ground, and featureless as had all hedges beetle banks ripped out to accommodate large machinery, all done twenty plus years ago as was the norm for these big operators!! But Just so I get basic grasp would the rotational grazing keep capturing carbon or is there a limit to what it can hold??
 

Old Tip

Member
Location
Cumbria
No it will keep going, you need to read Numan Turners book Fertility Farmin, he chanced dead low grade Sandy farms into productibe units in the fifty’s against the advice of the war ag. You would change how he did things now but the principal is still the same. Also look out Gabe Brown an American farmer who uses rotational grazing on light land
 

JSmith

Member
Livestock Farmer
This is very helpful thankyou, so the plant captures the carbon and deposits it into the soil, and carries on doing so, do fodder crops work in the same way or not at all?? Sorry to sound ignorant on the subject but first time looking into it an just trying to understand the basic elements of it!! Quite positive from my point that maize is so bad 😂
 

Old Tip

Member
Location
Cumbria
It’s the build up of Organic Matter which is important and the ability of legumes to take CO2 out of the atmosphere and turn i5 into nitroge. Grass is much better than trees at reducing CO2 in the atmosopher but only if it’s grazed. The trick is to leave it long enough to trap the carbon before you cut it or graze it, plus having a diverse sward that also provides diversity and root structure. For grazing i5 really needs a rotation of about a month in summer and longe4 in autumn and winter. Catch crops if direct drilled or min till are ok but neve4 as good as grass as any disturbance of the soil releases carbon but much less on your Sandy soil than peat. If you did grow catch crops and grazed them they they would add OM. As I said Numan Turner is the man fo4 light soils
 

delilah

Member
If you can get a long term lease on it, the most attractive option may be not to grass it now but to to crop it to the max for the next 3 years until ELMS will pay you to put it into PP. Mebe.
 

JSmith

Member
Livestock Farmer
Yeah I would be looking to take advantage of ELMS to reinstate features an fencing and so on... would need long term tenancy to see any reward for the investment but would be a good thing for me going forward!! All our fodder crops are direct drilled into permanent pasture and all stock out-wintered!!
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
its an interesting topic, the lighter soils of the country, are as you say, dead. This is the result of ag practices, created during and after ww2, the nation had to be fed. The lighter soils are showing the results, the heavier soils will follow, in due course. The answer is soil structure, we removed it, to improve, we have to replace it, and it's not difficult, or expensive. In our case, we were suffering drought from dry summers, and looked at reasons why our intensive new leys were not surviving their allotted time, nor giving us the yields we needed to support our dairy herd.
There are several 'points' that have altered here, ploughing, for one, the inversion of soil, kills worms, soil bacteria and fungii, think back 20/30 years, when you went ploughing in a cloud of seagulls, now ? So, now we use deep tine, followed by p/harrow, or d/drill, neither kill many of the soil 'goodies', and work out cheaper ! We are changing the type of grasses we grow, and from this autumn, are including herbs, all with the aim of increasing soil structure. We are now into year 3, and it is this autumn that the real difference can be seen, after the previous two dry summers, we were left with pathetic looking leys, that required overseeding, for us, this last summer, was the worst, till it started to rain mid sept, everything went into overdrive, and, is still going, we have grass, cut mid october, that could be cut again ! The growth, since the rain, has meant, with a bit of luck, we shall go through the winter, with out buying large amounts of forage. It's not all good news, the f/ing moles are coming back, good, is the fact mushrooms are returning to fields, where they haven't been seen for years ! The best bit, reseeding has dropped down dramatically, which also reflects in our spending plans ! The one other bit we have done, is to leave longer residuals following grazing. All in all, it looks like we are improving our farm, and saving money, and we are very intensive.
 

JSmith

Member
Livestock Farmer
This sounds a lot like us, and what we have been doing!! Glad that you are seeing good returns on the work you have been doing!! I know that what I have in my mind will work an what can be done an achieved but just trying to present it in a format that will appeal to the box tickers!!! The changes won’t happen over night an it would take some doing but slow an steady wins the race so they say!!!
 

JSmith

Member
Livestock Farmer
So what amount of carbon is say an acre of grassland capable of capturing in 12 months, roughly?? I know there are a lot of variables but just as an example??
 

Samcowman

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Wiltshire
Are you planning on just grazing it. Sounds like that is all it needs for a few years. Sounds like it will dry up badly if it comes dry in the summer. If I was you I would be hedging my bets and putting a diverse fodder crop in for summer grazing which will get a good level of biomass growing quickly at varying depths in the soil and really give the soil a good kickstart for an autumn reseed.
Not sure on how to measure carbon directly myself. But I remembered hearing about canon being roughly half of the level of organic matter of the soil. Did a quick google and the first result told me it’s 58% of organic matter.
 

JSmith

Member
Livestock Farmer
Would all be put down to grass/ fodder crops for rotational grazing all year round!! Very light land so ten days dry weather and we are like a desert!! We use quite a bit of chicory in our grass mix’s and are never shy of trying new varieties to see what suits/survives our ground!! The more variety in the ley the better, when one struggles the other survives, if I had it tomorrow because the place is bare and so as you could get on there an going as soon as poss, I would put in catch crops and under so with grass mix to get the place greened over as quick as poss so as to get livestock units on soon as! Don’t hammer it off to hard an move on round the rotation an then your left with a grass crop that’s greening up behind you!! As there’s no fences an not many hedges left, so as such it’s a blank canvass was thinking of ten acre fields that would be easily dividable into smaller cells, maybe leave some fields larger for silage/hay making say 15/20 acres! In an ideal world/dream this would be done with the help of ELMS And maybe the landlord, who knows, as said this is just something in the pipeline an just trying to put together an environmentally friendly proposal,
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
sounds as though you are 1/2 way sorted ! Going on to grazing, one of the things i had a problem with, the plate metre, ideal grazing height, and residuals. The experts will tell you to graze the grass, at 3 leaf stage, as the 4th leaf comes, the 1st dies, and so it does, and so it does all the way up the plant, new leaf, one dies, those 3 leafs are all the same feed value, whether at root level, or 12 inches up the stem, the big difference, is that uneconomic stem, helps to increase photosynthesis, (its green), which enables it to feed the root structure, which helps the plant to grow a stronger system, easy really, when you've got your head round it, and stopped listening to the 'experts', who want to sell you more fert, which stops root development !
Conventional farming, is going to change, brexit, and the greens, will dictate that, all the above, is only achieving what they want, we can, by going this route, be the 'leaders of the pack' ! As a personal view, and it will need a few more years to be proven, i think we can get a higher yield, with less imput, and as structure increases, so will yield, on top of that, you are green, holding moisture, absorbing carbon, in fact, to those greens, we are the dream farmers, on the other hand, could be a load of bollux, time will tell, just hope I'm right. Next month, we will be taking over nearly 80 acres of old pasture, which we will not be allowed to plough, looking forward to trying some ideas on that.
 

egbert

Member
Not got soil samples to hand but the land is poisoned to death with heavy metal contaminates, very light blow away sand so soil structure is very poor as in erosion by wind and rain!! Basically the place is dead, devoid of wild life, above or below ground, and featureless as had all hedges beetle banks ripped out to accommodate large machinery, all done twenty plus years ago as was the norm for these big operators!! But Just so I get basic grasp would the rotational grazing keep capturing carbon or is there a limit to what it can hold??

I do wish some of us would keep a more level head.
You're asking exactly the right questions, but the answers are heading into fantasy land again.

Certainly, grassing it out and introducing some herbivores will start to put carbon back in the ground.
But....as far as I can see, there is a limit to the carbon most Uk soils will hold before they become fragile beyond practical use.

As an example...
Look at the sheltered spot round the back of the steading on most hill units. The sycamore trees have shed their leaves there for centuries, the house cow has stood in the shelter, likewise crappping on the deep crumbly dirt, enriching it further.
And now, at the very first sign of rain, the turf goes soft, and her hooves punch straight through.

Scale that up to field wide scenario, and you'd eventually* have ground so soft you can hardly step on it when its wet, and it's close to being unusable for mechanical operations.....at which point the carbon is immediately decamping once more.
It's also a problem that naughty little invertebrates will keep grubbing it around and bringing it to the surface...where it will fly away.

Peatland is a good example. Lowland peat in dry parishes can be drained and tilled, but at a huge carbon loss cost.
Intact upland /rainsoaked peat is desperately soft, vulnerable to poaching/tractor marking.
Likewise, old growth forest, where thousands of years of tree growth should leave carbon yards deep...but the boulders still poke through the surface.

*timescales are important in this conversation. we're being asked to capture hundreds of millions of years worth of carbon, and such soil building s only ever going to be measured in decades before it becomes difficult to maintain.

Take the ELMs money, if that's what the urban morons think is the answer, so they can keep flitting to Malaga, but don't kid yourself.
 

holwellcourtfarm

Member
NFFN Member
Are you planning on just grazing it. Sounds like that is all it needs for a few years. Sounds like it will dry up badly if it comes dry in the summer. If I was you I would be hedging my bets and putting a diverse fodder crop in for summer grazing which will get a good level of biomass growing quickly at varying depths in the soil and really give the soil a good kickstart for an autumn reseed.
Not sure on how to measure carbon directly myself. But I remembered hearing about canon being roughly half of the level of organic matter of the soil. Did a quick google and the first result told me it’s 58% of organic matter.
My thoughts too Sam. Ideally a cheap diverse cover crop to start with (beans or peas, oats, cheap clover, cheap grass seed and whatever herbs you can get hold of cheap) and leave it to grow for most if the first season then graze and trample it begging electric fence.
 

holwellcourtfarm

Member
NFFN Member
I do wish some of us would keep a more level head.
You're asking exactly the right questions, but the answers are heading into fantasy land again.

Certainly, grassing it out and introducing some herbivores will start to put carbon back in the ground.
But....as far as I can see, there is a limit to the carbon most Uk soils will hold before they become fragile beyond practical use.

As an example...
Look at the sheltered spot round the back of the steading on most hill units. The sycamore trees have shed their leaves there for centuries, the house cow has stood in the shelter, likewise crappping on the deep crumbly dirt, enriching it further.
And now, at the very first sign of rain, the turf goes soft, and her hooves punch straight through.

Scale that up to field wide scenario, and you'd eventually* have ground so soft you can hardly step on it when its wet, and it's close to being unusable for mechanical operations.....at which point the carbon is immediately decamping once more.
It's also a problem that naughty little invertebrates will keep grubbing it around and bringing it to the surface...where it will fly away.

Peatland is a good example. Lowland peat in dry parishes can be drained and tilled, but at a huge carbon loss cost.
Intact upland /rainsoaked peat is desperately soft, vulnerable to poaching/tractor marking.
Likewise, old growth forest, where thousands of years of tree growth should leave carbon yards deep...but the boulders still poke through the surface.

*timescales are important in this conversation. we're being asked to capture hundreds of millions of years worth of carbon, and such soil building s only ever going to be measured in decades before it becomes difficult to maintain.

Take the ELMs money, if that's what the urban morons think is the answer, so they can keep flitting to Malaga, but don't kid yourself.
There's probably little ground vegetation under those Sycamore canopies though to hold the soil together and the cows spend way too many days standing in the same spot because it's set stocked. It could be so different.
 
Last edited:

Old Tip

Member
Location
Cumbria
I do wish some of us would keep a more level head.
You're asking exactly the right questions, but the answers are heading into fantasy land again.

Certainly, grassing it out and introducing some herbivores will start to put carbon back in the ground.
But....as far as I can see, there is a limit to the carbon most Uk soils will hold before they become fragile beyond practical use.

As an example...
Look at the sheltered spot round the back of the steading on most hill units. The sycamore trees have shed their leaves there for centuries, the house cow has stood in the shelter, likewise crappping on the deep crumbly dirt, enriching it further.
And now, at the very first sign of rain, the turf goes soft, and her hooves punch straight through.

Scale that up to field wide scenario, and you'd eventually* have ground so soft you can hardly step on it when its wet, and it's close to being unusable for mechanical operations.....at which point the carbon is immediately decamping once more.
It's also a problem that naughty little invertebrates will keep grubbing it around and bringing it to the surface...where it will fly away.

Peatland is a good example. Lowland peat in dry parishes can be drained and tilled, but at a huge carbon loss cost.
Intact upland /rainsoaked peat is desperately soft, vulnerable to poaching/tractor marking.
Likewise, old growth forest, where thousands of years of tree growth should leave carbon yards deep...but the boulders still poke through the surface.

*timescales are important in this conversation. we're being asked to capture hundreds of millions of years worth of carbon, and such soil building s only ever going to be measured in decades before it becomes difficult to maintain.

Take the ELMs money, if that's what the urban morons think is the answer, so they can keep flitting to Malaga, but don't kid yourself.
Each to there own but I think it’s you that’s deluded, we have been sold a pup by the agricultural support industry to keep their pockets full and ours empty. Wind back a bit, cut your inputs like feet, seed, sprays, feed, machinery, fuel etc etc and it’s surprising how much it adds up to. If you then get closer to your market and cut out a few of the middle men the output income increases as well. Throw in Gov funding and it’s a win win, you may not have a lot of bragging rights or the biggest tractor in the parish but your land will be in a better hod and your bank balance also
 

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HSENI names new farm safety champions

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Written by William Kellett from Agriland

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The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) alongside the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP), has named new farm safety champions and commended the outstanding work on farm safety that has been carried out in the farming community in the last 20 years.

Two of these champions are Malcom Downey, retired principal inspector for the Agri/Food team in HSENI and Harry Sinclair, current chair of the Farm Safety Partnership and former president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU).

Improving farm safety is the key aim of HSENI’s and the FSP’s work and...
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