PT Ranch is a family owned and operated regenerative ranch in Ione, California, located in Amador County in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Their goal is to restore California’s rangeland back to a healthy, productive landscape, one pasture at a time.
We had the opportunity to connect with Molly Taylor, Ranch Manager, whose parents own the farm. It was passed down to her mother three years ago, and since then the family has been implementing regenerative agriculture practices. The Taylors, with help from Alejandro Chavez, Head of Livestock, made a lot of changes right away. “We stopped the use of herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, and tillage and started managing our grazing, integrating different types of livestock and using cover crops,” Molly explained. “[Fully] transitioning the land takes much longer, so we are still watching that unfold.”
Their ranch has three different types of land on it: irrigated permanent pasture, dry cropland, and annual rangeland. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), rangeland is defined as “lands on which native vegetation is predominantly grasses and grasslike plants suitable for grazing.” Molly and her parents, Emily and Ned, knew their rangeland was pretty depleted. “This is true of 99% of range in CA,” Molly said. “They are dominated by low-quality annual forages, highly compacted, and host to lots of invasive weeds.”
One of Molly’s main drivers to manage her family’s ranch with regenerative agriculture practices was to do something about climate change. She cited Understanding Ag’s Soil Health Academy as providing a scientific perspective on the new systems the family were experimenting with on their ranch, and even said it helped change her life partner’s perspective, whose background is in conventional agriculture.
Last May, PT Ranch was one of 316 farms and ranches selected to receive a grant from California’s Food & Agriculture Department’s Healthy Soils Incentive Program, which is funded by the state’s cap-and-trade program. In an Instagram post, PT Ranch shared that the funding they received will go toward applying compost, planting cover crops, and avoiding tillage on their hay ground. It’s estimated that the total carbon dioxide equivalent of this funding alone will sequester 256.80 tons of carbon dioxide annually!
Another way PT Ranch is measuring their carbon sequestration and the environmental benefits of their farming practices is by becoming Ecological Outcome Verified (EOV) by The Savory Institute, which is why they joined Savory’s Land to Market program. “Making regenerative claims requires data collection,” PT Ranch shared on their website. “That’s why we chose to work with the Savory Institute to collect samples of forage, soil, and design long-term transects to capture ecosystem change.”
Currently they sell small quantities of olive oil, lavender, and honey with their main revenue source coming from pasture-raised poultry, pork, and lamb. All the animals are grazed rotationally and integrated with each other within silvopasture, the deliberate integration of trees and grazing livestock operations on the same land. The trees provide both short- and long-term benefits, providing shade for the animals for pleasant living conditions as well as being an additional revenue stream. Silvopasture is ranked #9 on Project Drawdown’s list of most effective solutions to reverse global warming, because “silvopasture systems sequester carbon in the biomass above ground and in the soil below.”
PT Ranch is now home to thousands of trees. Here’s a breakdown of their silvopasture species:
Irrigated Pasture Hedgerows: 1,300 trees
– black walnuts
Olive Silvopasture: 1,280 trees
Fruit Silvopasture: 1,000 trees
Fodder Silvopasture: 1,800 trees
– coyote brush
– albizia mimosa
– desert willow
– california rose
Riparian/Meadow Restoration: 650 trees
– 150 alder
– 500 willows
*Riparian refers to a wetland adjacent to rivers and streams.