Using Native Grasses and Forbs for Carbon Sequestration

Our atmosphere’s carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are higher than they’ve been in 100,000 yearsWhile CO2 is a natural part of the air we breathe, too much of it can be a very bad thing. As you may know, CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which means it absorbs heat (unlike oxygen or nitrogen).  

At proper amounts, CO2 serves a very important function of keeping our planet warm. Too much of it, however, and our planet becomes too warm, leading to some very serious problems. 

Many initiatives are taking place to combat the presence of excess greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. One of those is carbon sequestration.  

The goal of carbon sequestration is to capture and store CO2, keeping it out of the atmosphere and reducing the effects of global warming. 

There are two primary methods of carbon sequestration. The first is geologic carbon sequestration, which focuses on capturing CO2 as it’s produced and storing it undergroundOnce there, the CO2 is typically pressurized until it becomes liquid.  

While geologic sequestration can be effective, it can also be expensive and prone to leaking. That’s not to say it shouldn’t be utilized, but it’s best to pair it with biological sequestration. 

This process utilizes vegetation, soil, wood, and aquatic environments, including wetlands, to store excess carbon.  

Establishing Native Grasses and Forbs for Biological Sequestration 

Traditional farming and tillage damages soil over time, leaving it exposed to wind and water erosion while depleting it of its nutrients. Damaged soil stores less carbon than healthy, protected soil. On top of that, the process of tilling and harvesting fields places additional carbon into the air by burning excess fossil fuels and releasing carbon stored in the soil and plants. 

To combat this process, increase soil health, and effectively sequester carbon, farmers and landowners can plant perennial vegetation such as native grasses and forbs. 

Native grasses and forbs protect the soil from weather and water-run off. Overtime, carbon levels increase, and nutrients return to the soil. Since these plants are perennial, carbon stays in the plants and soil, keeping it out of the atmosphere. 

For damaged, underperforming, or unused land, establishing native grasses and forbs is a great way to promote carbon sequestration while returning health to your land. By enrolling in the Conservation Reserve Program, you can receive compensation from the US government to do so. 

Wondering who you can hire to plant CRP? Let us help.  

FDCE offers full-service CRP solutions that include enrollment assistance, CRP seed purchasing, planting, herbicide spraying, cost-share filing, and final reporting. From start to finish, we’ll handle the hard work, leaving you to simply enjoy the benefits of healthier soil and a cooler planet.