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October 26, 2021

Carbon Sequestration: What is it and How Does it Work?

The dangers of climate change and a societal push to adopt more sustainable practices are all anyone can talk about these days. But did you know that common activities like farming are one of the biggest culprits of harming our environment? The farming process removes carbon from the soil — where it belongs, and deposits CO2 into the atmosphere.

A decade ago, the almond farming industry had a sizable carbon footprint. But awareness of the issue and a desire to do better lead many almond farmers to adopt carbon sequestration. While it won't fix all of their issues like declining bee populations and increased pesticide use, carbon sequestration is making a positive impact.

What is Carbon Sequestration, and Why is It Important?

Carbon dioxide is created from numerous natural and man-made sources. On a small scale, respiration creates carbon dioxide that is released into the environment. On a much bigger scale, modern agriculture and fossil-fuel energy generate carbon dioxide and pollute the environment.

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that gets trapped in the earth's atmosphere. Over time, a build-up of carbon dioxide and other gases trap heat on the earth's surface, which leads to climate change. Examples include melting ice caps that are destroying the natural habitats of polar bears and changing weather patterns causing longer droughts and higher-than-average temperatures.

Carbon sequestration is a process of capturing and storing some of the carbon dioxide to stop environmental release. These processes occur naturally with oceans, forests, and soil. The ocean can absorb up to 25% of carbon dioxide emitted from human activities. Soil can store large amounts of carbon, but modern farming practices often erode it faster than replenishing. Plant-rich forests can absorb up to 25% of carbon dioxide emissions.

The scientific community is now embracing man-made opportunities to do the same process. And many feel that carbon sequestration is the key to stopping climate change altogether. Modern carbon sequestration practices utilize a variety of technologies, including engineered molecules like silicate pebbles mixed into agricultural soil that accelerate carbon formation. Another technology to capture carbon is direct air capture (DAC) and recycling carbon in graphene production (used to create smartphone screens.)

How Carbon Sequestration Works

Carbon sequestration focuses on three main functions: capturing, transporting, and storing carbon dioxide. For the most part, direct air capture is the most common method of collecting carbon. The process is effective but also expensive. For industrial settings and power plants that produce a significant amount of pollution, the investment is worthwhile.

Once carbon dioxide is captured, it is compressed into a liquid form and transported by ships, trains, and trucks to a storage location. Carbon can be stored in natural environments like deep coal beds, saline reservoirs, and other geological formations.

industrial smoke stacks

Our Current Capability for Carbon Sequestration

Our natural resources like oceans and trees do a pretty good job of removing carbon from the atmosphere and putting it back into the soil. But the industrialization is overtaxing these resources and accelerating climate change. The scientific community agrees that it is important to augment natural resources and invest in artificial carbon sequestration methods, and society has, to some extent. But it is expensive, and there is little immediate incentive to invest in it.

Some of the world's richest and most influential voices offer big sum rewards to promote innovative technology that will make it easier, more cost-effective, and more achievable for the corporate world’s participation. But it’s still in progress. In fact, there are still many conversations about why climate change is important in the first place.

Right now, the biggest offenders of environmental pollution like factories and power plants are the only ones investing in carbon-capturing technologies like direct capture. Smaller voices invest in building up our natural resources like planting more trees and adopting green practices.

The next industry to adopt carbon sequestration might just be the almond farming industry. The industry is already saturated with plenty of environmentally-friendly practices like composting and planting cover crops while cultivating trees that last for up to 20 years. The industry is more than eager to do their part, and the numbers show that almond farms can capture a significant amount of carbon.

Land Income is building better farmland through technology and innovation. Learn more today!

Types of Carbon Sequestration

Carbon sequestration occurs naturally and through technological innovation. As the talk about businesses becoming more environmentally friendly continues, the focus shifts from passive changes to more active ones.

Biological Carbon Sequestration

Biological carbon sequestration is the use of plants like grasslands and forests to capture and store carbon. Most biological processes occur naturally and without human intervention. But businesses can assist this process by stopping deforestation and replanting twice as many trees as they cut down. Researchers are also looking into ideas about adding materials to the soil to help carbon form in a fraction of the 70,000-year timeline it takes to naturally form.


The ocean is a two-way exchange of carbon dioxide, absorbing up to 25% from the earth's atmosphere and returning a portion to the atmosphere. Colder regions of the ocean can also store larger amounts of carbon, so arctic regions tend to act as a carbon reservoir.


Plants like trees, grasses, and agricultural crops use photosynthesis to deposit carbon in the soil, which is stored as an essential nutrient. When intensive agriculture strips the soil of carbon and beneficial microbes, the land becomes barren and unfarmable — a growing risk of modern commercial farming practices.



Trees have been credited for their carbon ingesting properties for a long time. Plant-rich landscapes like heavily forested areas can absorb as much as 25% of carbon emissions from the atmosphere and return it to the soil through photosynthesis.


Grasslands are the often-overlooked cousin of forests. The large swaths of undeveloped land contain just as much plant life as any forest. Since all plants use photosynthesis to turn sunlight and carbon dioxide into nutrients, grasslands are a big part of the natural carbon sequestration process.

Geological Carbon Sequestration

Geological carbon sequestration is the process of storing artificially captured carbon reserves in rock formations. Geological carbon sequestration is the bread and butter of modern carbon sequestration technologies currently employed by power plants and industrial facilities. Carbon dioxide is captured through a direct capture method and converted to a liquid. It is then transported to a location and injected into an existing geological structure.

Technological Carbon Sequestration

Technological carbon sequestration involves various modern innovations that aid in capturing, converting, and storing carbon. In some cases, the carbon is harvested and moved to long-term natural resource storage, and in other cases, it is recycled into something immediately useful.

Graphene Production

Graphene is a carbon-based compound isolated from graphite (the stuff that pencil lead is made from). It is a revolutionary material that is both incredibly strong and incredibly thin. Graphene is a key component in touchscreens, solar panels, batteries, computer chips, and much more. Graphene production is one way that scientists are recycling carbon for current use.

Direct Air Capture (DAC)

Engineered Molecules

The biggest problem with replenishing carbon, especially in agriculture, is the amount of time it takes. Modern technologies aim for engineering solutions that will suck carbon out of the atmosphere and deposit it directly where needed. One product currently under development is silicate gravel that is tilled into agricultural soil.

Effects of Carbon Sequestration

While the ocean is a terrific natural resource for carbon sequestration, it is not without consequence. As the ocean absorbs carbon from the environment, it raises the acidity, which in turn directly affects aquatic life — particularly with sea animals that form shells. It causes the shell to dissolve. The higher the acidity, the faster the shell dissolves.

Barriers for Carbon Sequestration Deployment

Humans have known about climate change for a couple of hundred years, and modern society has been harping on for at least the last 50. Businesses know what they need to do, and most know how to do it in many cases. So that begs the question of why progress has been so slow in carbon sequestration.


Money is the thing that makes the world go around. It influences all kinds of decisions, from big to small. And right now, the cost of investing in carbon sequestration is high. If the cost of polluting the environment was equally high (and not in abstract form), then progress would come faster. However, since most businessmen have a hard time buying into the realities of climate change, there is little money spent furthering this initiative.

Transportation and Storage

Fossil-fuel-based automotives are still the primary mode of transportation around the world. In essence, emitting carbon to transport carbon. To truly make progress, there needs to be methods of transportation that do not counteract sustainable efforts. 

Public Support

Right now, the business world is still operating in an environment of voluntary participation. Until businesses are mandated to invest in carbon capturing and storage technologies, progress will be slow. Right now, the flames are being fanned by Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) trends in consumerism that incentivize businesses to adopt environmentally-friendly processes, but how effective is that and how long will that last?

Planning for Our Future Using Carbon Sequestration

The key to solving climate change may very well be an investment in carbon sequestration technologies. Moving forward, the focus will be on developing technologies that make carbon sequestration more affordable and on promoting widespread use in all industries.

Land Income is bringing value to local farmland through technology and strategic plant cultivation — restoring viability that was once lost. We are committed to building sustainable agriculture systems. Learn more about investing today

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