Jim Mann – Biochar and enhanced rock weathering to remove 1B ton carbon annually and holistically

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A check in interview with Jim Mann of the Future Forest Company discussing the need to decarbonise our society a soon as possible and still remove about 10 gigaton a year to keep most of the planet liveable.

How do we do that at scale and speed? Of course soil and trees are key, but only as permanent as the farm management. So we need to also look at biochar and enhanced rock weathering which could, by the way, also replace much of a farm chemical input (chemical fertiliser, etc.).

LISTEN TO THE CONVERSATION ON:

A conversation about holistic solutions for carbon removal involving reforestation, biochar, and enhanced rock weathering. So much more research about the application and impact is needed and luckily the Future Forest Company is doing exact that, not in academia, but at huge scale, financed by carbon credits sold to companies like Stripe.

Holistic Solutions, Significant Impact

The Future Forest Company firmly believes in holistic solutions to carbon removal and how these solutions should be done on a scale to have significant impacts. Real holistic solutions not only solve underlying problems but also leave additional benefits. Jim sees the most potential in enhanced rock weathering, and he believes that it has the greatest natural capacity to take in greenhouse gases. Aside from enhanced rock weathering, The Future Forest Company also focuses on biochar and reforestation. 

“If we take that type of rock and speed it up, not only we do get that soil building process and the plant nutrition that comes with it, but we also remove CO2 at the same time.” – Jim Mann

Unpacking Enhanced Rock Weathering 

Enhanced rock weathering is weathering sped up by spreading pulverised rocks, resulting in the acceleration of the soil building process (because of easier access to water, CO2, etc.), which ultimately leads to carbon removal. This process also helps us know more about soil and plant nutrition, which is an added benefit. Unlike other non-holistic approaches to carbon removal such as direct air capture (DAC), the carbon collected from enhanced rock weathering can be stored permanently. The only limitation of enhanced rock weathering, as mentioned by Jim, is that it’s difficult to quantify and monitor. At the moment, The Future Forest Company has a team of experts looking for ways. 

“The challenge that we face with enhanced rock weathering, and the thing where we’ve been investing very heavily is on the science and on the ability to measure it.” – Jim Mann

Scaling, Financing, and Investing

In terms of scaling, The Future Forest Company works with machinery and people. With the use of modified industrial spreading equipment, they were able to do some trials, and they’re ready for scaling. For lands that they don’t own, they’re initiating an experiment with the landowners and a set of experts to help. 

The Future Forest Company has ways to finance the reforestation of lands. They partly rely on government subsidies and investments, as well as tree sponsorships. Jim mentioned a scheme they call Trees, Not Tees where individual sponsors get a tree planted instead of T-shirts. Tree sponsorship is also available for companies in which they hold programs such as tree planting day or team building, etc.

“We’re trying to work out how we work with those partners right now where we can bring all the skills and help them develop that land into a better ecosystem, bring back nature and, at the same time, do something about the carbon asset that we’re creating and sharing that upside that we create for them.” – Jim Mann

Replacement of Chemical Inputs

As enhanced rock weathering gives great insights in terms of the minerals and their impact on plant nutrition, the farmers gain quite a lot in terms of the need for fertilizer input. Through the consistent particle distribution, farmers could get a small (but significant) amount of phosphate, potassium, calcium, magnesium, selenium, aluminum, and iron, among others. Over time, with a favorable volume ratio, there will certainly be changes in participating farmers’ need for fertilizer. While accelerated weathering may not completely replace farmers’ fertilizer needs, it has so much potential when done on scale. The Future Forest Company continuously studies and researches to see if this approach has possible downstream effects. 

“We need to be doing this at scale. We also need to be checking that doing this at scale doesn’t have unintended consequences.” – Jim Mann

Other Points Discussed 

Koen and Jim also talked about: 

  • Fertilizers for farmers are too high;
  • The Giga tons solution;
  • Grazing and soil storage of carbon;
  • Acting quickly to continue living on a livable planet.

To know more about Jim Mann and The Future Forest Company, download and listen to this episode. 

LINKS:

LINKED INTERVIEWS:

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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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