Hawai'i has made many pledges to lead the way to a more sustainable future including being the first state to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to align with the principles and goals of the Paris Agreement. In addition to the state’s plan to be greenhouse gas neutral by 2045, it has also committed to doubling local food production by 2020. Although some may see agriculture and climate change mitigation as opposing forces, this project's goal is to reframe that narrative through highlighting regenerative agricultural practices that are proven to reduce the impacts of agriculture and produce beneficial climate impacts through carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas reduction, and beneficial ecosystem services. Healthy Soils Hawai'i’s (HSH) is a multi-agency supported pilot project that works with local farmers and ranchers to implement best management practices that have proven climate and ecosystem benefits and provide guidance documents called Carbon Farm Plans to help connect producers with funders who support these goals. HSH brings together soil science, conservation planning, industry experts, and our local agricultural community to help lead the way towards a more sustainable and resilient food production system.
Carbon farming is a process designed to maximize agriculture's potential for moving excess greenhouse gases from the atmosphere into the soil and vegetation, which builds fertility, productivity, and resilience. Farmers and ranchers implement best management practices that are known to improve the rate at which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and sequestered in soil and plant material, with the ultimate goal of the operation sequestering more carbon that it emits.
Healthy Soils Hawai'i is a local pilot project supported in part by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the State of Hawai'i Greenhouse Gas Sequestration Task Force, research organizations, local producers, and an extensive list of stakeholders. In its first year, the HSH team has partnered with farms and ranches throughout the state to implement soil health best management practices shown to have beneficial impacts on ecosystems, soil health and greenhouse gas reduction. The HSH team has been innovative in its approach to creating incentives for producers to implement soil health best management practices (BMPs) by involving a diverse group of stakeholders from the public and private sectors nationally, local trade organizations, and large landowners who have an interest in soil health.
HSH works with producers to:
Carbon farm plans are guidance documents for landowners and agencies outlining a suite of conservation practices that address on-farm resource concerns and greenhouse gas reductions. Plans are designed to help land managers meet their goals while supporting productive lands, thriving streams, and on-farm wildlife habitat.
Benefits of Carbon Farm Plans:
Healthy Soils Hawai'i believes that climate smart agriculture is the nexus of food production, conservation, and climate change mitigation. We encourage interested farmers, ranchers, landowners, and other interested stakeholders to connect with us as we continue to grow our program. Increasing local food production and climate change mitigation are two challenging sustainability goals that can be addressed collaboratively, building bridges and forging important connections to broader ecosystem services and goals.