Soil Carbon

We are aiming to increase the soil organic matter and soil carbon on all of the Align Farms. In our opinion not only will this help in the fight against climate change, but it will have a range of additional benefits such as increasing the infiltration rate and water holding capacity of the soil, increasing soil biodiversity, and improving fertility and structure. Some of the conventional practices we are accustomed to using, such as plowing or leaving the ground fallow, result in losing soil carbon.

There is a lot of debate around the capacity of New Zealand’s soils to store more carbon. Because of this uncertainty, and because some countries overseas are beginning to give farmers carbon credits for their soil carbon sequestration, we decided to work with Manakki Whenua Landcare Research (MWLR) to determine the baseline for our farms. The intention is to measure again in 5 years and see if we can accumulate more soil carbon in the process.
We sampled 20 sites per farm, based on MWLR statistical analysis. Because of our stony Canterbury soils, we needed to use the quantitative pit method rather than using cores and sampled at the same four depth increments (0-15 cm, 15-30 cm, 30-45 cm, 45-60 cm). With each pit, we dug out the first 15 cm interval, separated soil and stones, weighed the stones, weighed and sampled the soil, and measured the volume of the first interval. This was repeated 4 times for each hole to get down to 60 cm.
We completed the first 3 farms’ baselines in the summer of 2020-21 and will do the remaining farms this coming summer. We split Clareview into regenerative and conventional before we sampled the soil, but we are satisfied with the consistency between the regenerative baseline and the conventional baseline.

The data is laid out below and we will continue to present it here as we gather it.

Align Farms Soil Carbon