Climate-Smart Agriculture - Carbon Opportunities in Ag Webinar
Given the sheer land mass they cover, the nation's forests and agriculture lands hold great potential for sequestering carbon, the process by which plants capture carbon dioxide from the air and store it in the soil. The carbon stays in the soil until the soil is disturbed through tillage. Carbon dioxide is a concern because, as a greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide holds in atmospheric heat, preventing warm air from escaping the atmosphere and contributing to climate change. Farmers can play a key role in carbon sequestration because crops are highly efficient at using and storing carbon dioxide. Farmer leaders and government officials agree that, for meaningful carbon reduction to take place in the United States, farmer must be involved.
The following information provides a snapshot for crop producers of the carbon market landscape as of August 2021. Most of the current opportunities are for pilot projects and are not operating fully as a market at this point. Payment amounts vary and can be practice-based (with a fixed amount paid for adoption of certain conservation practices) or outcome-based (providing either a guaranteed amount per acre, or an amount based on the quantity of carbon sequestered as estimated through models or measured in soil tests). The information below should help when considering options but will change as the markets evolve.
Human prosperity for the past 150 years has been fueled largely by fuels stored in the earth. These geologic energy sources have expanded human well-being beyond the imaginations of our grandparents. However, as my grandfather always taught me, “ain’t nothing free.” The cost of this energy gift has been a dramatic increase in carbon moving from the geosphere to the atmosphere. This carbon is one of the most common greenhouse gases (GHG) in our atmosphere and is increasing the risk of irreversible climate change. We contributed more than 52 gigatonnes (billion tonnes) of carbon dioxide-equivalent gases (Gt CO2-eq) in 2019.