Our Negative Carbon Footprint - Southern Ridge Farm

Our Negative Carbon Footprint

Still Time for January Orders!

Please see the schedule below for details on January delivery. Spring Hill and Franklin are this Thursday, January 21. Order by Wednesday evening for Thursday delivery. For Richland Park on Saturday, January 23, place your order by Friday evening. We are extending home delivery to COLUMBIA through this Saturday also!

Southern Ridge Farm: A Negative Carbon Footprint
(Or, Buy Our Meat and Save the Planet!)

Did you know that our sustainable farming methods actually sequester more carbon than we emit, while at the same time boosting biodiversity? That’s true!  But wait a minute you say…we’ve heard about the bleak UN Climate Report demonizing the beef and dairy industry and showing how cows produce up to 5% of global carbon dioxide emissions. That’s why we all need to eat plant based “meat” right? Well, wait a minute. While there’s no reason to question the conclusions drawn from the data they collected, we do need to take a look at the data set they used to arrive at their livestock damning conclusions. 

You see, their science is spot on, and it is based on studies of conventional, open range livestock farming that ravages the soil’s health by overgrazing the grass down to the dirt, killing the soil microbes and fungus with chemical fertilizers, and leaving behind a dead, sterile mineral mass. Unfortunately, their studies didn’t give you the rest of the story because their data didn’t take into account how sustainable farming methods like those used here at Southern Ridge Farm actually improves the soil and reduces the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. 

Take for instance our practice of high intensity, rotational grazing. We stock as many as 100 cows on a five acre paddock, compared to conventional livestock farmers who run about 2 cows per acre. Or said another way, they run 2.5 cows on that same five acres where we run 100. 

Unlike open range farming, where cows wonder all over the farm and eat the grass down to the nub, we move our cows regularly onto small 5 acre paddocks that have plant stands as tall as two feet high. Rather than overgrazed, hard packed ground, you’ll find a stand that includes from 50-75 different types of grasses and legumes. All those sunlight soaked plants use the sun’s energy to fuse CO2 with hydrogen and oxygen to make carbohydrates, which they move into the soil by their roots. The roots feed the soil-bound fungus and in return, the fungus feeds minerals back into the plants. But wait another minute, what about all that CO2, where does it go? 

Remember, I said that the roots take it into the soil. That’s called carbon sequestration, taking CO2 out of the air, and burying it deep into the ground where it doesn’t easily escape. The deeper the roots, the more efficiently it can sequester the carbon in the ground. But how do you get deep roots on your plants, you might ask? One way is by adding a good dose of fertilizer… like the manure and urine from 100 closely grazing cows. I know what you might wonder next… how do cow patties get deep into the soil, they look to me that they just sit there in the pasture? 

Now I have to let you in on a nasty little secret about cow poop. When a cow patty hits the ground, dung beetles almost immediately gather under the pile and begin to do their work. They carry the manure as much as four feet underground where they live, leaving a trail of rich fertilizer along their path, bathing the roots in rich nutrients, and creating deep carbon sink. But that’s not all the beetles are doing—they’re aerating the soil when they burrow down into the ground, allowing oxygen to go deep into the soil to build up a nutrient rich environment where beneficial bacteria and fungus can thrive.

So back to our story… after the cows graze the grass down to about half its original height, we move them on to the next paddock. This gives the ground a much needed rest to regenerate the soil and regrow the grass, thicker and better than it was before the cows came in to graze. Do you see what we’ve just done? We’re making topsoil! That’s right, another broad stroke myth buster about how modern agriculture practices are destroying the soil to the point that we’ll find ourselves in another 1930’s type dust bowl. Well, that’s not necessarily so when you use sustainable farming methods. 

Our cycle of high intensity grazing, laying down a dense layer of manure and urine, allowing the land to rest for 30-40 days, and then repeating the process all over again throughout the growing season sounds like a vaguely familiar story doesn’t it? Sounds a lot like the pattern of bygone days when giant herds of bison and elk swarmed over the countryside, grazing down everything in their path, and leaving behind a urine soaked, buffalo-chip speckled landscape, and not returning until the grass was high enough again to support another round of grazing. 

America’s great plains are some of the richest farmland in the world, and while it’s true they were shaped by glaciers advancing and receding, leaving behind finely ground minerals, school books seem to always stop there—ground up rock, a breadbasket doth not make. No, it requires grass to grow, animals to graze, manure to be laid down, dung beetles to fertilize the root, repeat, repeat, repeat… and THEN you have six feet of nutrient rich, extremely fertile top soil. And that’s what we’re doing on our farm; building topsoil, scrubbing CO2 from the air, sequestering carbon deep into the ground, while our lush pastures are spewing life giving oxygen into the air. 

I hope that little story offers you another perspective on how buying meat from us not only provides your family with healthy and delicious food, but you and your family become partners with us as we work to regenerate the earth, build more productive farmland, and help reduce the amount of CO2 greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. 

We can never say it enough… a very heartfelt thanks for supporting our family farm!


January 2021 Delivery Schedule

NASHVILLE. Richland Park Farmers Market: Saturday, January 9, 10 AM to Noon, 4711 Charlotte Avenue. PLEASE NOTE winter hours are now in effect! If you missed the second Saturday delivery, no worries! We can bring one for you on the 23rd.
MURFREESBORO. Murfreesboro Main Street Saturday Market:Saturday, January 16, 10 to 10:30 AM, Murfreesboro on the Square
COLUMBIA. Columbia Farmers Market: Saturday, January 16, 10 AM to Noon, 5th St. and Riverside Drive
SPRING HILL. Thursday, January 21, 11:30 AM to Noon, Spring Hill City Hall.
FRANKLIN. Thursday, January 21, 1 to 1:30 PM 4140 Carothers Parkway (next to Bargain Hunt)
HOME DELIVERY. Tuesday, January 12, to Franklin, Spring Hill, and Columbia. We are extending home delivery to COLUMBIA thru January 23!

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