Here's what motivates all this hard work: I love this land that gives us life.
If you look at the decline in biodiversity, extinction, loss of topsoil, contamination of water, and carbon levels in the atmosphere, it's cause for outrage and grief. But there are also powerful ways that farmers can regenerate soil health, reinvigorate water cycles, increase biodiversity, and work with plants and soil biology to take carbon dioxide from the air and cycle it deeper into the soil life and plants.
Microbially Active Soil
We use a lot of beautifully simple methods for harnessing the power of soil microbiology. We create highly bio-active compost and vermicompost (from worm bins) to inoculate the root zones of transplants going into the field. We use techniques from Korean Natural Farming to culture and spread Indigenous Microorganisms and use Lactic Acid Bacteria to boost the defenses of crops against pests and disease. We use "living pathways" between crop beds - grass and clover grow in the paths instead of bare soil. This prevents erosion and reduces soil compaction, but it also provides zones where mycorrhizal fungi are perennially partnered with the living grass roots in the path.
No-Till and Perennial Alley cropping
By not tilling the soil, mycorrhizal fungi can extend through the root zone of our annual vegetables and perennial woody crops (like elderberry, paw paw, asian pear). Mycorrhizal fungi play an enormous role in plant vigor and in some soils, they are responsible for the majority of the carbon entering the soil carbon pool. Every time soil is plowed these delicate fungal networks are destroyed - releasing their stored carbon back into the atmosphere oxidized along with the carbon from plant matter no longer living and photosynthesizing in the soil. By using no-till methods, the carbon cycle is kept intact - fungi, soil microbes, and respiring, photosynthesizing plants keep it cycling through the soil. Less soil disturbance means better water retention, fewer weeds (over time), and healthier plants.
Nutrient Dense Food
When soil is microbially active and healthy, it increases the biological activity in plant's roots and increases plant's nutrient availability. A virtuous cycle keeps perpetuating itself as healthier plants create more complex carbohydrates through more optimized photosynthesis, thereby attracting an even more robust microbial community through their root exudates. All of this beautiful harmony crescendos into healthy plants that are more nutritionally dense and alive - when we humans and other four-legged animals eat them, it increases the health of our own gut micro-biomes!
All of this is "carbon sequestration". To be more precise, it's carbon cycling. The more diverse the carbon-based life in the soil and on the land, the healthier the planet, the healthier we all are.