Farmers who practice no-till, or other tillage-limiting production techniques, can earn a few extra dollars by carbon trading — the latest push for a greener environment that rewards growers who sequester, or keep carbon in the soil.
Carbon sequestration, also known as carbon farming, refers to the storing of atmospheric carbon in plants and soil so that the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will reduce or slow.
Carbon-trading efforts have been expanding across the
The Chicago Climate Exchange (http://www.chicagoclimateexchange.com) is a voluntary rules-based greenhouse gas emission and trading system, and the place to go to trade carbon credits in the open market. Currently, carbon is trading at $1.70 per ton of carbon dioxide, which translates into roughly a dollar per-acre revenue for the farmer.
“Currently, the financial returns aren’t that great, but at that rate a farmer with 1,000 acres of no-till could earn $1,000 annually for merely continuing his established practices,” said Mark Wilson, president of Land Stewards, LLC in Columbus, Ohio.
“No-till in and of itself is a carbon credit. If someone is willing to pay you to do what you’ve been doing, then why not get involved? You are just leaving money on the land if you don’t,” said
Examples of carbon-trading efforts throughout the United States and elsewhere include:
Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association, who works with Entergy, an electric company based in Louisiana, to “lease” carbon credits to Washington state farmers.
Greenhouse Emissions Management Consortium, a Canadian company whose efforts to trade carbon with farmers have expanded into the western
. United States
World Bank in Washington, D.C., which has mobilized the BioCarbon Fund to alleviate poverty and promote biodiversity conservation by aiding farmers in developing countries to practice no-till. For more information, go to: http://www.biocarbonfund.org.
Windows of opportunities are opening for interested farmers. For example, the Iowa Farm Bureau has launched a carbon credit aggregation pilot project to encourage
Though carbon trading varies at the Chicago Climate Exchange, credits can reach as high as over $2 a ton. Some industries have rewarded farmers with as much as $5 a ton for sequestered carbon, noted
For more information on carbon sequestration and carbon trading, go to:
American Farm Bureau — http://www.fb.org/news/fbn/html/agriculture_s.html.
USDA Economic Research Service — http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/tb1909/.