Aligning theory and practice: CNG team gets the lowdown on soil carbon

By Grant Little

Our AgriCarbon™ team visited six of our farms in KwaZulu-Natal – these farms enrolled in our AgriCarbon programme in 2022.

Our team really enjoyed being on the farms and interacting with the farmers who have such passion and commitment to their regenerative agricultural land management practices.  Sites were visited across the Natal Midlands from Estcourt to Bishopstowe. A range of agricultural sectors were also viewed to get a good cross section of the farming activities in the project. These included maize, cattle, avocados, pecan nuts, dairy and essential oil herbs including tea tree. The diverse practice all demonstrated the benefits of their regenerative agricultural practices with improvements in water management, soil health and productivity being evident.

These site visits provide an opportunity for the team to meet and interact with the farmers on their farms, share ideas, understand their challenges, ensure the VERRA processes are followed and demonstrate how carbon farming practices can benefit both the environment and farmers.

During this visit, the team discussed and looked at a range of regenerative agricultural land management practices being conducted on the farms which included: irrigation efficiency; mulching; biomass integration; increasing soil cover; residue management and efficient fertiliser application. These practices can help sequester carbon in the soil, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve soil health and fertility. The VERRA processes and requirements were highlighted to the farmers and the team was able to look at a number of real life practices in order to ensure that the theoretical requirements of a global methodology could be applied in a meaningful manner. Regional disparities, practice differences between various farming styles and agricultural practices were observed to ensure that compliance to the international carbon standard would be achieved. An emphasis was placed on communication between the project team and participating farmers, the importance of record keeping and monitoring information, soil and woody biomass sampling on fields and alignment between the various partners within the project, from the commercial , carbon development, technical support teams, farmers, agricultural partners and external auditors among others.

It is always exciting to see the interface between the high-level carbon project development process and the practical, on-the-ground agricultural practices that our leading farmers are adopting and implementing. It is fulfilling to be able to take these practices and convert it to an internationally recognised project that benefits our farmers.

This formed part of the internal audit process of the project and the team plans to visit more farmers in the future to ensure that the communication and alignment of knowledge is improved, and value is added to all involved.

Grant Little, Senior Carbon Developer, Climate Neutral Group

[To enlargen, simply click on images]

Sean Sole explains the Tee Tree extraction process and the return of biomass to their organic Tee Tree fields, Bishopstowe, KZN.

Senior Carbon Developer, Mandy Momberg and Dr. Jacqueline Raw, Carbon Project Developer testing above-ground woody biomass on avocado trees.

Witness Netshitumbu, CNG Carbon Project Developer, expecting Pecan trees on Stone Ridge Farm in Byrne Valley, KZN.

Measuring above-ground woody biomass on an avocado tree in Byrne’s Field Estate, Richmond, KZN.

Senior Carbon Developer, Mandy Momberg interviews a worker on the farm removing unhealthy avocado trees as part of a blanking exercise.

CNG team led by AgriCarbon Account Manager, Matt Ford, inspects soil carbon sequestration on Tee Tree field in Bishopstowe, KZN.

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