WHAT MAKES CARBON A COMMODITY? AND HOW FARMERS CAN GET INVOLVED?
What’s A Farmer’s Role In The Carbon Market?
A farmer’s role in carbon markets is carbon sequestration and storage in the soil. Certain conservation practices can help reduce the release of carbon from the land into the atmosphere and/or capture CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in the soil. For example, when you till a field and disturb the soil, you expose the organic carbon within it to aeration, so it gets oxidized and then released into the air as CO2.
Different agricultural production practices result in varying amounts of potential soil carbon capture. Practices that keep soil protected and in place, like reducing tillage, utilization of cover crops, relay cropping and double cropping, can help capture and store carbon in the soil. A farmer’s revenue potential increases as they adopt more sustainable practices and sequester more carbon from the soil.
Who Buys The Carbon Credits?
The U.S. government and a significant number of large corporations have made commitments to protect the environment by reducing or offsetting the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere through their operations. Keeping carbon out of the air and in the soil is an effective way to help meet these goals, which means many of these groups are now willing to pay farmers to do so.
Today, there are many company-initiated voluntary carbon market programs available to U.S. farmers. Each program operates independently with its own standards for eligibility, payment and contract requirements. Many programs are still in the pilot process, but the U.S. government is making it easier for farmers and landowners to compete in carbon markets as they expand.
Conservation farming practices take time and money to implement. That’s what makes support from corporations and governmental organizations so powerful for the farmer. When companies buy carbon credits, they play a critical role in the carbon market by making practice changes economically viable for farmers.
The Lasting Effects Of Sustainable Farming
While adopting sustainable production practices may require initial investments, those expenses can be returned to farmers over time through reduced fertilizer costs, less fuel and labor costs, lower irrigation costs and higher profitability potential. Farmers participating in carbon programs can offset implementation costs by subsidizing them with payments earned through program enrollment. Over time, these payments become an additional, reliable revenue stream for farmers.
Implementing sustainable practices offers benefits beyond carbon transactions as well. Diversifying crop rotations, reducing soil disturbance and keeping it covered year-round are valuable investments in soil health. And healthier soil often leads to an increase in yield and a reduction in input costs.
Begin Earning For Your Practices
All it takes is one small step to get started: understand your farm’s current soil health standing. The Truterra® soil health assessment is a great resource for farmers looking to build a plan to improve soil health and monitor changes over time. When you’re ready to enter the carbon market, your local Truterra network provider can help you find a program you qualify for so you can start transacting.
Truterra is focused on helping farmers’ land, practices and investments work for them. Connect with a Truterra network provider or pre-enroll for 2024 Truterra® sustainability programs today to get started.