Tuesday, August 17, 2021

D&R Greenway Land Trust Reports Completes First Phase Carbon-Sequestration Process to Slow Climate Change at St. Michaels Farm Preserve, Hopewell 

D&R Greenway Land Trust and leaders from Soil Carbon Partners [SCP] announce successful completion of the first phase of their Carbon-Sequestration Process at the land trust’s St. Michaels Farm Preserve. Growth of lush forage grasses exceeds expectations, in fields fertilized with a special mix of organic materials and minerals. Despite significant spring rains, followed by a hot, dry spell mandating irrigation, just two weeks after planting, production was twice that of grasses grown in control areas, and has been increasing since the first test results. Three independent researchers, including from Princeton University and the University of Vermont, are evaluating results in the amended fields compared with control areas not treated with SCP’s natural, organic soil amendments.

In May, SCP’s special mix of soil fertilizer, an organic blend of minerals and microbes—was spread on fifty acres of fields on D&R Greenway’s St. Michaels Farm Preserve. The first phase of the project, that included deliveries and mixing of materials, and spreading organic elements on the fields, is now complete. The goal is to increase productivity exponentially to expand the ability of the plants to sequester and store carbon from the atmosphere. If successful, the science will demonstrate how agriculture can be managed to diminish catastrophic climate change.

SCP will bring a small herd of cattle to selected fields this summer. This experiment replicates grasses and processes of the healthy ecosystem that nourished long-ago bison on Western prairies. Cattle nourished on SCP’s fertilized forage grasses, fed by nutrient and mineral-rich soil, are expected to produce significantly less methane than is typical today. The impact of St. Michaels Farm cattle upon the climate will be tested. Daniel Rubinstein, Ph.D., of Princeton University’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology will focus his research on the impact of this system on the animals. His expertise is founded on an individual animal’s foraging, mating and social behavior. At St. Michaels Farm, Dr. Rubenstein will measure methane emissions, which are expected to be reduced as the cattle consume nutrient-dense forage growth from SCP-enriched pastures.

The trails at St. Michaels Farm Preserve remain open as always, and visitors are encouraged to enjoy the lush, green views. D&R Greenway and SCP asks that, later this summer when the cattle arrive, walkers maintain a “Cattle-Distance” of at least 6 feet from any fenced fields where cattle are grazing.

The amenities at D&R Greenway’s signature preserve were recently enhanced with a new, rustic three-sided bench structure, Jackson’s Place, on top of the hill near the Charles Evans Overlook. Visitors can enjoy a wide view of pollinator fields and Hopewell Borough from this vantage point, accessed from Aunt Molly Road or by walking across the stream on the trails from the main parking area. The total preserve is 415 acres, with this scientific study taking place on a total of 60 acres.

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