An Arizona State University professor wants to exchange ideas
Phoenix – Impacting the land one cow and one pasture at a time.
“It’s just nature. No one has made anything new here, it’s not a new technology, it’s just a way. Look at this, bison are great land managers, let’s emulate them,” said Peter Beck, a professor of journalism and sustainability and documentary filmmaker at Arizona State University.
Beck and his team of scientists are reintroducing the adaptive farming method to farmers across the United States
“In 2006, when I was looking for solutions to climate change, the soil kept coming up,” Beck said.
Soil is both a problem and a solution. Beck focused on who was treating the soil.
“It was the pastoralists, the ranchers, who were actually doing things that seemed much faster and had a much greater impact,” he said.
His focus on ranchers led to his first producing project, “Soil Carbon Cowboys” in 2014.
This led to a $10 million grant for his research team to create their latest work, “Deep Roots.”
“We are studying a type of grazing called adaptive grazing,” Beck said.
This is where cattle hit a small area of pasture, eat half the plants, trample the rest to cover the soil, and move on.
“Then all of these plants just want to grow quickly and absorb carbon, and feed the microbes in the soil. They’re absorbing a huge amount of carbon (from) those plants pulling carbon out of the atmosphere which is one of the main factors.” “Why climate change is happening,” Beck said.
His research shows that because so much carbon is pulled down, it counteracts methane (from cow burps) and nitrous oxide gases on the farm. It in turn leads to a decrease in greenhouse gases and slows the rate of climate change by creating a cooling effect.
“Then that land rests, which is the rest period where everything grows back,” Beck said, “and when it grows back, it reduces a lot of carbon, and as it does that, it cools that farm, and if enough farmers do that, “This could lead to cooling of the planet.”
But that is if enough farmers do it.
“One farmer is not going to be able to change the planet, and there are hardly enough people using this type of method because there is not enough knowledge that it exists,” Beck said.
That’s why Beck made his film taking him on the road to one small town after another to try to create a change movement one farm at a time.
“We really show the personal side of agriculture and science and then we have real science backing it all up. It’s one of the ways that creates a lot of solutions,” Beck said.