Carbon Offsets and Sustainable Agriculture in Arid Regions
Nopal cactus production and farming represents an extraordinary option to create a permanent CO2 (GHG) sequestration mechanism while supporting agriculture and clean energy production in marginal areas with soils that are not suitable for other type of crops while further benefiting the regions through the recovery of poor and eroded soils.
The unique CO2 absorption and sequestration system of the nopal cactus achieve permanent CO2 reductions by capturing CO2 in the air and injecting it into the soil as oxalate bio-minerals.
Temporary vs. Permanent CO2 Sequestration
Temporary CO2 Sequestration
Through the process of photosynthesis, plants remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use it to build all the carbon-based compounds it needs for structure and function. When most plants die, these carbon-based compounds break down into their constituent components with a re-release of carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. This short- term cycle explain why carbon forestry is considered a temporary sequestration method.
Permanent CO2 Sequestration
Nopal cactus uses some of the carbon dioxide it removes from the atmosphere to make compounds called oxalates, which combine with calcium ions taken up from the soil by the plants roots. The resulting calcium oxalate takes a different path following the death of the cactus. Rather than degrade to its constituent components, calcium oxalate slowly transforms into solid calcium carbonate (calcite), thus essentially sequestering atmospheric carbon dioxide into the soil, which is a form of permanent sequestration.
Optimizing CO2 Capture
Through a hybridization processes with a rigorous genetic selection of more than 15 species and after more than 6 years of work in field, we have been able to increase crop production from 150 tons per hectare to 600 to 900 tons per hectare per year. This results in exponential carbon sequestration and subsequent carbon credits.