Peter Donovan – The wonders of soil and asking better questions when investing in it

A lesson on soil and all its wonders: an interview with Peter Donovan, who has been active in the space since he met Allan Savory in 1990! Peter Donovan of Soil Carbon Coalition has developed a sampling methodology for taking soil carbon samples. 


Fascinating article by Peter:
Recognizing the soil carbon sponge

Take-aways from the interview:

  • Measurements of carbon is difficult
  • Peter: Soil carbon the living the dead and the very dead
  • The best kind of measurement is one that is repeated and is looking at agency
  • Peter is looking more and more at results not management, as everyone is doing them differently 
  • Good questions vs bad questions
  • Organic growth and succession of management
  • Future of agriculture means more people on the land
  • Focus metrics on water because the benefits are local

Example on water benefits:
Since 2013 in Charlottesville Virginia, your Storm Water Utility Fee is derived from the amount of impervious surface present on your property. Impervious surfaces include roofs, driveways, road, decks, and parking lots.

The paper we discussed on Summer Fallow:
How farmers on the Great Plains are changing the local climate 

Advice for impact investors, look at:

  • Land tenure
  • Long term commitment of the farmers/land managers (this isn’t a short term job)

More information on Peter’s work:


Feedback, comments, suggestions? Reach me via Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.

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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

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