This week, we released a herd of sheep onto a large solar farm. There they will take on their new job of grazing the grasses beneath and around the solar panels. Typically, solar farms manage foliage with machinery and herbicide, to prevent any shading of the solar arrays. By using sheep, this source of energy becomes not just renewable but regenerative, improving the soil and sequestering carbon at the same time.
A note from Will Harris:
Our country has been powered by coal-burning power plants for the last 100 years. This was reductive energy. Solar and wind power began the change to renewable energy. Today, Silicon Ranch and White Oak Pastures started producing regenerative energy.
I can't overstate what a landmark day this is. We turned out the first 432 lambs on a very large scale solar energy array [the property is over 1400 acres]. This is where we begin to seriously tip things back in the right direction for our climate. Starting today, we are generating clean, renewable energy while we pull greenhouse gases out of our atmosphere.
Many of you may have seen the Life Cycle Assessment, the third party, peer-reviewed, scientific study that was done on White Oak Pastures last year.
We believe that we may currently be the only farm on the planet that has scientific evidence demonstrating that we sequester more carbon than we emit. We have pulled one ton of carbon out of the atmosphere — per year, per acre, on over 3000 acres, for the last 20 years. That is about the same amount of carbon that is contained in 500,000 barrels of oil. It ain't up in the air causing problems any more. It is now supporting microbial life in our regenerated, healthy topsoil.
Every pound of this carbon that we have trapped in our soil was previously greenhouse gases. The plants in our pastures breathed this carbon in through photosynthesis. The animal impact of our grazing herds trapped this carbon as organic matter in our soil. It is precisely how the earth evolved.
Our land has increased from 1% organic matter to over 5% organic matter, through the managed grazing of our herds. Land that has 1% organic matter can absorb a 1 inch rain event. Land that has 5% organic matter can absorb a 5 inch rain event. Can you imagine how much downstream flood control comes from this difference?