Improving Grazing Practices & How Ranchers Can Make Carbon Credits Work Panel To Speak At MonDak Ag Days March 7

Chris Mehus, Chelsea Phipps, Tara Povalish will take the stage on Thursday, March 7 at MonDak Ag Days to speak on improving grazing practices and how ranchers can make carbon credits work for their operation.

Ag Days is held at the Richland County Event Center, and all educational speakers are free to attend.

Tara Povalish's portion will zero in on the carbon market and how the credits function.

Chris Mehus is the Western Sustainability exchange executive director. WSE works with ranchers, businesses, and organizations to balance the health of soil, water, climate, and wildlife habitat while increasing ranch profitability through regenerative agricultural practices, according to their website, westernsustainabilityexchange.org. Chelsea, along with her husband, run a family ranch near Jordan, MT, and have been pursuing more soil-friendly practices for over a decade.

Mehus was born, raised, and educated in Montana. He uses his degrees in Wildlife Biology and Range Science to "assist and advocate for ranchers who have a strong conservation ethic". He has spent 10 years ranching in southern Montana, as well as working in rural business, economic, and financial planning. This working knowledge gives him a perspective on what drives ranchers to seek out non-conventional methods. Mehus will cover basic principles and strategies for improving your grazing system at 2 p.m. The subsequent benefits to plant communities and soil health open the door to carbon credit trading for ranchers. The Northern Great Plains Improved Grazing Carbon Program pays ranchers to "implement practices that increase the potential for the soil to sequester additional soil organic carbon". These practices range from increasing pasture splits, reducing grazing days, and letting land rest. The carbon levels are measured and reported in order to correctly transact the credits to land managers. The financial support from the credits encourages ranchers to use these practices, and long-term, improve the land they use for their operation.

Carbon's availability in soil determines water holding capacity, water filtration rates, available forage, and better soil structure; especially important in drought conditions. Native, a public benefit corporation, offers the contracts and performs the testing necessary to be part of the carbon credit exchange. Ranchers or land managers commit to, making a statement of public intent, 40 years of managing their land for optimum soil health in return for 40 years of carbon credits and payments. Knowing additional infrastructure is necessary for these changes, upfront capital is available to cover these costs and "bridge the key gap in the development of a carbon project".

 

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