Join the IDEA Farm Network for a field walk exploring climate smart agriculture strategies used at Zumwalt Acres!
What you’ll see in practice:
- Alley cropping
- Forest farming
- Biochar application
- Basalt weathering trials
Alley cropping is the planting of rows of trees and/or shrubs to create alleys within which agricultural or horticultural crops are produced. The trees may include valuable hardwood veneer or lumber species; fruit, nut or other specialty crop trees/shrubs; or desirable softwood species for wood fiber production. Alley cropping offers a viable option for farmers and landowners interested in adopting carbon sequestration and conservation practices while maintaining working lands; 1 acre of alley cropping sequesters .65 tons of carbon per year.
Forest farming is the cultivation of high-value crops under the protection of a managed tree canopy. In some parts of the world, this is called multi-story cropping and when used on a small scale in the tropics it is sometimes called home gardening. It is not recreational harvesting or wild harvesting of native understory woodland plants without management; management is an essential part of forest farming. This approach to crop production intentionally uses both vertical space and the interactions of the plants and microclimate.
Biochar, also known as black carbon, is a product derived from organic materials rich in carbon and is found in soils in very stable solid forms, often as deposits. Biochars can persist for long periods of time in the soil at various depths, typically thousands of years. The most common example is charcoal, derived from wood. When applied as soil amendments, biochars are known to improve soil physical and chemical properties, such as increasing soil fertility and productivity. Many recent studies are also focusing on broader impacts of biochars, such as the potential for climate change mitigation at a global scale.
Basalt is a common rock loaded with silicate minerals that remove emissions from the atmosphere. It is also rich in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and other often-limited micronutrients, and it corrects soil pH levels in the same way as agricultural lime. By crushing the rock into dust, it can be used as a natural, climate-friendly soil amendment that helps the planet, boosts crop yields, and repairs soils. The basalt provides a steady nutrient flow to your field as it dissolves. Thus far, this method has been tested on large trial plots with vegetables and grain in Illinois and Wisconsin, in addition to the lab. After a year, farmers saw increased crop yields and measurable carbon dioxide capture.
About Zumwalt Acres
Zumwalt Acres is an agroforestry farm practicing methods of agriculture that are regenerative, draw down carbon, and align with Jewish values. It was founded by the youngest generation of the Zumwalt family and their peers in 2020 on land in Sheldon, IL that has been in the Zumwalt family for over 150 years.
About IDEA Farm Network
IDEA Farm Network is a learning community that creates a safe, lively space for farmers, scientists, advocates, food entrepreneurs, and consumers to share diverse experiences, information, and views that advance regenerative agriculture. The IDEA Farm Network meets regularly to discuss timely issues, learn about different farming methods, explore new equipment, or learn from a member farmer.
About Savanna Institute
The Savanna Institute is a nonprofit organization that works with farmers and scientists to lay the groundwork for widespread agroforestry adoption in the Midwest US. Inspired by the native savanna ecosystems that once covered much of this region, the Savanna Institute conducts research, education, and outreach to support the growth of diverse, perennial agroecosystems.
About Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture
The Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture is focused on developing collaborative and innovative solutions to remove carbon dioxide from our atmosphere and mitigate the effects of greenhouse gas emissions. Natural processes that draw carbon out of the atmosphere and sequester it in plants, soil, and rocks already exist. We need to better understand how these processes can be enhanced to create reliable, affordable, and scalable strategies to decrease net greenhouse gas emissions.
Special thanks to The Land Connection’s Farmer Training sponsors!