There are many practices that lead to the enhancement of carbon sequestration from the atmosphere. These 6 Pillars or tools were originally recognized as the most important by Ethan Roland who is a pioneer in the regenerative agriculture and carbon farming community. This is by no means an exhaustive or exclusive list of the ideas and practices that could be considered to increase the sequestration of carbon.
1. Holistic Management
Holistic Management is a system based on the principle of thinking in "wholes" that ties the land, the people, and finances of an operation to work as a single unit. Holistic land management practices mimic nature, ultimately returning the land to health. This whole farm planning system maximizes the management of available resources.
2. Keyline Design
Keyline Design is a land management system developed by Australian P.A. Yeomans and his sons in the 1950s. The two key components of a Keyline design is the development of water harvesting/storage and the revitilization of soil. Each land area has a unique topography that determines the design, based on the keyline, the highest point that will effectively hold water. In addition to earthen ponds and water channels that are built to capture and store water, the soil is the largest storage reservoir of water.
Agro- Forestry is is a land use system that combines perennial species (trees and shrubs) grown around or among crop land or pastures. This system is beneficial to the environment as it protects soil, water, and air quality; provides wildlife habitat; and conserves energy. Utilizing this system ensures long-term production of healthy and safe foods.
4. Living Soils
A healthy soil system is comprised of a wide diversity of living organisms, including bacteria, fungi, nematodes, and insects. The Soil Food Web is in constant interaction, playing a key role in the decomposition of organic residues. This interrelationship results in increased nutrient availability for plants; and the production of humus, soil aggregates, and channels for water and air filtration. A thriving soil environment has a positive effect on agriculture productivity, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration.
Biochar is a specialized form of charcoal that is used as a soil amendment. When it is incorporated into the soil, it helps conserve water and provide nutrients for plant life. Because it is very porous and fine-grained, it is able to retain water and nutrients and store them until needed by the plants. By using forestry and agricultural residues that are currently burned or left to decompose to produce biochar, the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere is reduced, thus having the potential to mitigate climate change.
6. Restoration Agriculture
The goal of Restoration Agriculture is to take advantage of the benefits of natural perennial ecosystems. By imitating nature in both form and function, this agricultural system will efficiently produce perennial food crops, and provide for building and fuel needs all while improving the quality of the environment. The focus of this system is the restoration of agricultural land that was previously plowed and planted in annual crops for several generations.