Document Type

Honors Project On-Campus Access Only

Abstract

Even if the humans of planet Earth were to halt all emissions of greenhouse gases today, the impacts of climate change would still have profound and dangerous impacts on society and nature alike. Therefore, a need exists not only to reduce emissions, but to stabilize the atmosphere via the sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere. Agriculture, long a major emitter of greenhouse gases, has the potential to accomplish sequestration. Through changes to tillage practices, the introduction of other conservation techniques such as cover crops, and a move towards rotationally grazing cattle, agriculture can transform itself into a more resilient system which also facilitates the transfer of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and into the soil. This thesis examines carbon-smart agriculture within the context of Minnesota, looking at five case study farms, ranging from reduced emissions to net sequestration; thus, the ‘Carbon Continuum.’ Clean water, financially productive farms, and systemic resilience accompany sequestration on the farms profiled, which although stellar examples of carbon-smart farming, are the exceptions to the rule in Minnesota production agriculture. How to translate the climate-smart practices highlighted here into the mainstream remains a significant challenge, but is also an opportunity with to define and design a better future for human and nature alike.

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