Farmers have the ability to create carbon sinks with livestock by employing a system known as Adaptive Multi-Paddock (AMP) grazing according to research that features in a documentary released today (Wednesday, June 26).

The ‘Roots So Deep’ documentary, followed the lives of farmers on 10 farms across Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi, and saw a team of 20 scientists from seven universities compare the impact of AMP with conventional style grazing.

The docu-series examined if different types of grazing methods could help “depleted” soils, rebuild wildlife habitat, remove carbon from the atmosphere and help farmers get out of debt.

The researchers also measured what was happening on all the farms to see if AMP grazing could possibly slow down climate change, by reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.

The director of ‘Roots so Deep’ Peter Byck, professor of Practice at the School of Sustainability, Arizona State University, wanted to primarily find out if AMP grazing is better for the land and if “old school” farmers could change their ways?

It took the team five years to design and fundraise for the research project, and they took to the fields in spring 2018, according to director of the documentary.

A clip from the Roots so Deep documentary

The oil and gas company, Shell had previously provided funding for the University of Exeter to install towers that measure CO2 going in and out of the soil. This benefitted the research by Byck and the science team.

McDonalds funded $4.5 million as a matching grant. Of the $4.5 million, $3.75 million went into the research in the south-east of America.

The remaining $750,000 was put towards the northern great plains, where the research team is replicating the same research, but in a different ecosystem.

Byck told Agriland what he set out to do:

“It was about finding individuals at these companies who believed in what we were trying to do, and have the same concern for climate change that we had.

“I want folks to be conscious of the farmer who grew that food, and a lot of times it is small farmers who grow a lot of the food that we eat.”

Byck had previously made a movie about solutions to climate change called ‘Carbon Nation’ and if poorly treated soils were a big part of the problem.

This movie sparked his interest in soil health and how it affects climate change, and Byck questioned if a certain type of grazing could “flip farms” from unhealthy to healthy.

‘Roots so Deep’ (you can see the devil down there) will be available for screening in Ireland and the UK from today.