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Research

DAR's research program studies the impact of scaled agroecology on hydrology, carbon sequestration, biodiversity, and soil health.

Research Program

In arid and semi-arid climates, water retention is the limiting factor in a landscape's ability to perform other ecosystem services like carbon sequestration and supporting biodiversity. Soil health is a key indicator of all of these ecosystem functions.

 

Tracking how effectively our landscapes accomplish each of these goals gives us deeper insights into how to become more effective designers and land stewards. By doing so, we can develop models for how to reverse desertification and combat climate change in arid and semi-arid lands, which represent 40% of earth’s land mass and support one third of all humans.

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  • The health of the soil is a direct representation of the health of an ecosystem. By understanding practices that build soil quality, microbial and fungal life, and nutrient cycling, we can develop stewardship practices that support live

Soil Health

  • Perennial plants continue to grow year after year. Trees, shrubs, and other plants that produce food for humans and animals create abundance by minimizing work. 

  • Breeding drought tolerant and regionally adapted perennial crops strengthens our ability to cultivate a wholesome relationship with our environments.

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Biodiversity

  • Testing bio-regional and traditional grain crops in low water conditions

  • Developing crops that are low input and support a rich regional food culture

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Water Retention

  • Healthy forests, grasslands, pastures, and other ecosystems naturally sink carbon from the atmosphere. Our research is developing strategies to greatly accelerate these processes that are reversing the damage of industrial society.

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Carbon Sequestration

  • Soil Organic Matter %

  • Soil Water Infiltration Rates

  • Soil Water Holding Capacity

  • Soil Bulk Density

  • Soil Macronutrients

  • Soil Microbiology Profile

  • Tree/Shrub Survival Rates 

  • Tree/Shrub Growth Rates 

  • Grain Crop Yields 

  • Food Waste Diverted from Landfill

  • Livestock Feed Costs 

  • Insect Biodiversity

The metrics we track demonstrate how effectively our landscapes are accomplishing each of these goals.

Meet our 2022 Research Interns

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Nelson Heider-Kuhn

Nelson is currently pursuing a degree in Soil and Crop sciences focusing on soil health and Agroecology. He has dedicated his life to understanding how regenerative agriculture can serve as a catalyst for change in the face of climate change and believes that soil health is integral to this change. He lives in Longmont with his two cats, 8 chickens, and clinical herbalist husband and strives to embody living in a reciprocal relationship with nature and the planet.

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Augie Dunne

Growing up in a large city, Augie was surrounded by ecological damage caused by people. In his time with Drylands Agroecology, Augie hopes to develop methods that restore our ecosystems to health. He is excited at the prospect of studying insect biodiversity, improving carbon sequestration, and forging resilient food systems!

Our Research Sites

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Yellow Barn Farm

(Allen's Farm)

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Metacarbon Organic Farm

Would you like to get involved with our research program? We welcome your input!

Please email amy@dar.eco for more information.