On Friday, the founder of Honest Burgers, Tom Barton, was on Sky News talking about the Grassroots farms supplying beef for their burgers.
We helped him quantify, in real terms, the carbon under management on just three of the farms supplying the chain. To create a message that could be easily communicated but backed up with data.
SO WHAT DOES CARBON UNDER MANAGEMENT MEAN?
Each farm supplying Grassroots Farming has a visit from an independent ecologist. He’s called Dr Phipps and he walks a W pattern across fields over at least 20% of the farm, taking 30cm plugs of soil with an auger (like a screwdriver). These are mixed up in a box and sent to a laboratory for analysis.
What comes back is a wealth of data about the microbial life, the minerals and nutrients in the soil, and the soil texture (the ratio of clay vs. sand particles). But importantly, they also test how much carbon is present in the soil.
This number (called DUMAS) is then multiplied up to tell us literally the total stock of soil carbon in the fields being farmed.
The total Carbon Stocks Under Management across these three farms is equivalent to the amount of carbon emitted by 94,500 economy flight tickets from London to New York.
The way the farmer then manages that field can affect the carbon in the soil. Do the right things and they can increase the carbon levels. Do the wrong things and they can ‘burn’ carbon.
The right things include practicing rotational or mob grazing, planting a diverse mix of plants rather than monocultures, and reducing artificial fertiliser usage. The wrong things include plowing, leaving the soil bare and over applying artificial chemicals.
When companies like Honest Burgers work with us, we’re able to pay our farmers more to invest in the new ways of doing things, so they can not only ensure the carbon stays in the soil, but add more to it over time.