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DAR Implements Major Earthworks Infrastructure to Cultivate without Irrigation
LONGMONT, CO – Last month, Drylands Agroecology Research broke ground on an innovative land regeneration project at Yellow Barn Farm in Longmont, Colorado that will restore 60 acres of degraded, desertifying terrain back to lush and fruitful agricultural land without irrigation. The project will use large contour earthworks to create natural pathways and catchment systems for water from existing precipitation. 6,000 fruit and nurse trees will be strategically placed within the system so that water will be directed to the trees. DAR layered oyster mushroom mycelium into two-thirds of the swales and is looking to observe the effects on moisture retention and tree health. This process will revive the ecosystem by creating a microclimate that will cool the surrounding area and retain important nutrients and moisture in the soil so that more life can thrive. Windy, exposed and variously degraded, YBF mirrors the landscape challenges throughout much of the arid West, and this project is intended to be a working model for other regenerative farming projects as water becomes more scarce due to the climate crisis.
Drylands Agroecology Research is spearheading land regeneration research practices with a focus on developing systems that do not require irrigation. Despite millions of dollars spent worldwide on research and development for carbon sequestration technologies, planting trees and restoring ecosystems remains by far the most effective strategy. The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report makes it clear that carbon sequestration is “unavoidable” and “an essential element of scenarios that limit warming to 1.5? or likely below 2? by 2100”. DAR is leading the way with this critical work to combat the heavy toll Coloradans are feeling from the climate crisis in the form of unseasonal wildfires, long-term droughts, and continued erratic weather patterns.
This work is being made possible by a grant from the Woodard & Curran Foundation whose mission is to support nonprofit organizations that protect our water and environment. As land across the American West becomes a dustbowl, DAR’s model offers a hopeful and replicable template for regenerating thriving soil, ecosystem, local food, and community.
EDITORS’ NOTE: Onsite and remote interviews and on-site demonstrations are available upon request with Nick DiDomenico, Co-Executive Director of Drylands Agroecology Research. In addition, photos of examples of earthworks can be made available.