January 31, 2019 Climate Beneficial Wool (Part I): Composting – An Important Strategy for Managing Carbon on a Farm Here at Shepherd’s Dream, we’ve have been sharing information lately about the wonders of carbon farming and why it’s so important in helping offset our carbon footprint. One of the things that excites us most is knowing that each sheep farm employing these practices is also by default producing “climate beneficial wool.” Simply by diminishing their carbon footprint in the atmosphere, these farms are raising sheep in an environment that actually repairs the land they grow on. It usually begins with compost. The Benefits of Composting Applied directly to the soil, compost enhances carbon sequestration (the pulling of atmospheric carbon into the ground) and also provides slow-release nutrients. This increases the soil’s water-holding capacity and thus it’s forage production, allowing sheep to graze freely on pasture that won’t harm native plant communities. When implemented correctly, compost reduces emissions from organic materials likely found on farms that would otherwise be burned or left to rot in piles. Unattended ponds and open pits can fester like a landfill, releasing greenhouse gases such as methane, nitrous oxide, and black carbon into the atmosphere. Composting these organic materials instead creates nutrient rich additives that pull carbon back down into the land. With careful distribution, a good compost will add resilience to the land during extreme weather events such as droughts and floods, simply by strengthening the soil’s capacity to hold water and nutrients. Composting Tips It’s important to note that compost is created from the breakdown of raw materials that were once alive, but it isn’t the raw materials themselves. It’s actually the final product of a process that happens when microorganisms break down raw materials into a new form that can then be augmented into the existing soil. A good compost will have plenty of nitrogen and carbon, and will have undergone a process where the raw materials biodegrade quickly under high heat with plenty of oxygen. This nutrient-rich material will be free from harmful pathogens as well as unwanted weeds. With careful planning, compost is a crucial part of managing the carbon on any farm. Here at Shepherd’s Dream, we pride ourselves in only sourcing climate beneficial wool from sustainable farmers who care about reducing their carbon footprint and protecting the planet through composting and other eco-friendly practices. By purchasing our Premium Eco wool bedding, you are helping to support these farmers and the sustainability movement! For the next part of our Climate Beneficial Wool series, we’ll take a look at how grazing techniques enter into the equation of carbon reduction. Be sure to stay tuned!