Why California Is Compensating Its Farmers to Grow Weeds

It’s all about carbon absorption.

California’s almond farmers usually pride themselves on maintaining immaculate orchards. But now they are letting invasive mustard, clover and other weeds grow alongside their crops … and raking in some extra money at the same time.

The effort is a small but important part of California’s mission to eradicate carbon emissions by 2045. By employing “carbon farmers,” the government hopes an abundance of plant life, weeds included, will absorb some of the carbon already floating in the state’s atmosphere. According to a state report, farms and forests could absorb as much as 20% of the state’s current level of emissions.

And it all comes down to the mineral soil.

According to KCET, “This is where the carbon is stored. Plants soak up the carbon dioxide in the air to build their leaves and stems. Their roots pump carbon down into the earth. Then, when the plant dies, its organic matter gets broken down by microbes and fungi. That’s how carbon from the air gets into the soil.”

You can read more about carbon farmers and how they are contributing to California’s ambitious climate change actions here.