University of California receives $4.7M to Study Carbon Sequestration with Rock Dust, Compost and Biochar

An exciting new consortium led by the University of California, Davis, and the UC Working Lands Innovation Center is setting out to find new ways of taking excess carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere using Nature’s best resource — soil.

The multipartner consortium has received a $4.7 million grant from California’s Strategic Growth Council to research and study the use of soil amendments in carbon sequestration.

Carbon sequestration is the process of removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it as a fixed molecule in a carbon sink, such as soil, oceans or plants. While this happens naturally, human advancements in agriculture and industry have affected natural sequestration by stripping the soil of amendments that allow it to absorb CO2. Therefore, the excess CO2 in the atmosphere is instead absorbed by the oceans, raising acidity levels and hurting wildlife.

By addings amendments such as rock dust, compost and biochar into California’s soil, the consortium hopes to find improved methods of carbon sequestration.

“Previous research points to some promising avenues for carbon capture and storage through the use of soil amendments,” states UC Berkeley professor Whendee Silver on the university’s website.

“For example, we found that adding organic waste — food waste, green waste, livestock manure — as composted soil amendments could save the equivalent of 28 million tons of carbon dioxide using just five per cent of California’s rangelands. That’s equal to approximately 80 per cent of the emissions from the state’s agriculture and forestry sector.”

The studies will assess whether soil amendments can bring additional benefits to California farms, such as improved soil health and crop and rangeland productivity.

The consortium will conduct 29 site studies across the state. The Working Lands Innovation Center will partner with California industry, community groups, farmers, ranchers, native tribes and small businesses to support the state’s agriculture and natural resources, as well as the livelihood and wellbeing of Californians. The grant runs for three years and promises to advance California’s climate goals while also helping disadvantaged communities.

Louise Bedsworth, executive director of the California Strategic Growth Center, states: “In addition to supporting the development of innovative new technologies and approaches to reduce global warming emissions, these awards help to build critical partnerships between researchers and the people on the ground advancing climate solutions. SGC is proud to support the partnerships that are critical to solving the climate challenge.”


Sabrina Dengler graduated from Hampshire College in 2017 with a degree in Environmental Studies. She is passionate about challenging the idea of nature as separate and distant from society and works to promote intersectional environmentalism using science and sociology. Her background in writing and organic agriculture lead her to work with RTE and she is excited to share her skills in research while learning about the nonprofit sector.

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1 Reply to "University of California receives $4.7M to Study Carbon Sequestration with Rock Dust, Compost and Biochar"

  • Jose Luiz M Garcia
    July 5, 2019 (3:59 pm)

    Glad to know that US Davis is engaged in sequestering Carbon by means of Rock Dust, Compost and Biochar.
    Agriculture is gradually and finally getting back to its track.

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