Grown Here at Home: Local farms reducing carbon emissions through rotational grazing

Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 7:31 AM EDT
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CHECK, Va. (WDBJ) - Folks at Weathertop Farm have a real passion for what they do.

“We’re a grass-based, pasture-based farm. So basically we look at the pasture as the solar panel. We’re mostly concerned with the soil,” said Cedric Shannon, owner and operator of Weathertop Farm in Check.

Soil contains billions of micro-organisms -- worms, bacteria, fungus and a whole lot of other stuff making nutrients and minerals in the soil. A healthy soil plays a critical role in reducing carbon emissions.

“Any time we’ve taken the plow to the land, any time we’ve sprayed chemicals, we’ve destroyed that whole community of that soil and we’ve set back all those systems. All that carbon that was in the soil, when we break it up with a plow, that goes back into the atmosphere,” Cedric explained.

In order to sequester the carbon and keep it stored in the soil, at Weathertop Farm they use rotational grazing. The animals play a huge part in the process.

“We give them a fresh piece every day. After they eat all that biomass, and trample in the rest, and spread out their manure everywhere, they move on, and so they can’t go back and eat that re-growth. So you have to work the plants, but you can’t work them too hard. You’ve got to find that happy medium where you’re working the plants with the animals, you’re making all the systems work. You’re bringing the carbon down, you’re building the body of the soil. When the rains come and the grass grows up again, then you can bring the animals back in again and eat that biomass, and suddenly you’ve got this system that’s pumping this carbon dioxide into the soil,” explained Cedric.

This, in turn, reduces the amount of carbon going back into the atmosphere, producing quality soil, and a healthy environment for the animals.

Click here to learn more about Weathertop Farm.

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