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Dirt — California's secret weapon against climate change

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While the country waits for President Trump's decision on the Paris Climate Agreement, California is taking a proactive approach. In fact, it's doubling down on its environmental goals.

Yesterday, the state senate passed SB 100, a bill that would move the state to 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2045.

Now, California is ready to seize one more opportunity — the soil that supports our thriving farming industry.

While carbon in the air is bad for the environment, it's actually really good for dirt — especially if you want to grow stuff in it.

Can the state use our farmlands to get some of that carbon out of the air, and get it into our soil where is can do some good?

That's the hope behind the Healthy Soil Initiative — a new program that uses Central Valley's farming soil to curb carbon emissions.

Take Two's A Martinez spoke with Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which is spearheading the program. 

Interview Highlight

The science of sequestering carbon in soil

 The science is the photosynthesis process which is what plants d0 - taking sun and water, and atmospheric carbon dioxide - absorbing that, turning that into sugar to grow the plant and the crop. And what's not used for that plant growth goes into the root system. And then, it's converted to carbon in the soil.

There's lots of microorganisms all beneath our feet. A lot of the world's biodiversity is in our soil. And we're feeding it. So, we're giving it the nutrients so that it stabilizes that carbon. And we sequester that carbon which is another is another way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.    

Getting the agricultural industry on board

There's a lot of farmers are doing pieces of this because they know that taking care of their soil will help them produce better crops, better yields. 

What we want to do is help package a menu of options to advance these practices. So it can be things like increasing the use of compost, planting more cover crops, reduced tillage so we're keeping a cover on that soil throughout the year, and intensive rotational grazing practices.  

Quote edited for clarity. 

To hear the full interview with Karen Ross, click on the blue Media Player above.