Peter Donovan has reported on successful examples of managing wholes on http://managingwholes.com. He founded the Soil Carbon Challenge in 2010 as a competition to recognize land managers for turning atmospheric carbon into water-holding soil organic matter, based on measured performance over a 10-year span. Since then he has been slowly traveling the continent in a converted school bus, putting in baseline plots to gauge soil carbon change under creative and committed management from California to Vermont, Canada to Mexico. See soilcarboncoalition.org
Peter realizes that water is the number one issue around the country (as well as the primary greenhouse gas), yet water cycling is largely governed by the carbon cycle, which in turn is dominated by the metabolisms of living organisms, where ranchers, farmers, foresters, and land managers of all types have considerable leverage. The soil and its surface is the center of gravity of both water and carbon cycling. Why is this problematic for policy? What are the incentives for dividing an opportunity (enhancing carbon and water cycling) into multiple, competing problems? What are some ways forward?