The Verdict: Soil carbon sequestration from good grazing management cannot offset livestock emissions, nor is it the solution to climate change as Allan Savory would have you believe.
According to the FCRN report, soil carbon sequestration could offset anywhere between 20-60% (the upper range being rather ambitious) of emissions from grazed, as opposed to grain-fed, livestock- a far cry from Savory’s unsubstantiated promises.
This benefit is diminished by the fact that grazing systems, like those in NZ, are generally known to be less productive and are, as a consequence (and contrary to what most people believe), actually more harmful to the climate than intensive grain-fed systems (i.e. emissions per unit meat output are higher).
Soil carbon sequestration is like sweeping climate change under the rug: any future change in grazing practice- perhaps as the result of a drought- could cause stores to be released.
A recent ground-breaking publication in the academic journal Science found that, in response to warming temperatures, soil microbes produce more carbon, which in turn causes soil carbon stores to be depleted. Soils releasing their carbon stores in response to global warming could trigger a dangerous feedback loop, which on “a global-scale…could be very difficult, if not impossible, to halt."
We ought to be focused on reducing emissions in the first place, not trying to hide a tiny proportion of them in the ground afterwards.