By Alastair Bland : calmatters – excerpt
Loren Poncia’s idling pickup shudders in a powerful gust of afternoon wind in western Marin County. Inside the warm cab, he scans the sun-browned hills through his binoculars, counting his grazing cows. Poncia raises beef cattle. As he sees it, though, what he is really doing is raising soil.
“I’m growing grass to feed to my cattle, but it all comes down to having high-quality soil,” said Poncia, who owns Stemple Creek Ranch with his wife, Lisa.
He is among more than 80 farmers now engaged in a state-funded program aimed at increasing carbon concentrations in California’s soil. Part of the state’s overarching goal of curbing greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change, the California Healthy Soils Initiative took effect a year ago, when the state’s cap-and-trade program made $7.5 million available in small grants to farmers like Poncia. This year, the Healthy Soils Program, one component of the initiative, is receiving about $15 million… (more)