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The First Farmer in the US to Sequester Carbon for Cash Earns $115,000 For His New Planting Strategies

Scientists, farmers, USDA and governments are coming together around an idea that will have tons of carbon removed from the atmosphere and returned to the soil.

Regenerative agricultural practices are not new, but it is new that the President of the United States should be talking about them.

A large study by the Nature Conservancy, one of the oldest environmental groups in the US, has shown that a particular type of no-till agriculture that involves the planting of cover crops and nutrient-dense foods like root vegetables during the off-season perhaps it could sequester up to 10% of the world’s carbon footprint.

In a speech that Biden gave in which ad His Secretary of Agriculture like Tom Vilsack, the president mentioned how his policies will make “American agriculture the first in the world to achieve net zero emissions.”

To do this, Biden and Vilsack plan to “create new sources of income for farmers in the process by paying farmers to put their land under conservation, ground cover crops that use the soil to sequester carbon.”

One such farmer is Marylander Trey Hill, featured in a Washington Post article portraying him as the first seller in a new private carbon credit market based on this type of farming.

The market has already been worth $ 115,000, and buyers have paid him for putting 8,000 tons of CO2 back on the ground.

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A history of farming

The image of the ancient farmer tilling the soil to make way for seeds is an iconic and even romantic image of land use.

Nevertheless, according to the Washington PostThis act of disturbing the soil, breaking roots and exposing vulnerable microbes to the sun, has sent 133 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere throughout human history.

As Good News Network reported last year, regenerative agriculture, either through fancy jargon like “adaptive grazing in multiple pastures” or “agroforestry“Or” permaculture, “it totals one fifth of all agricultural activities in the United States.

Black cohosh cultivation, by Priya Jaishanker – CC license, forestry farming

The principle among regenerative agricultural practices is no-tillage, as it not only sends carbon into the atmosphere to be converted into carbon dioxide, but it exposes soil microbes and fungi to harmful ultraviolet light, reducing biodiversity. ground.

Instead, when it comes to commercial monoculture farming, the vast majority of farming in the US involves the use of root crops to loosen and aerate the soil, and cover crops to protect it from the sun, what introduces more microbial diversity, and sequestering more carbon in the roots of the plants.

A new market for carbon credits

Estimating that soil sequestration could represent 25% of total climate mitigation strategies, Bossio and the team Nature Conservancy detail in Nature that 47% of this strategy will involve agriculture.

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Trey Hill uses clover, lentils and rye as cover crops, and radishes and turnips for root crops as sequestration and regeneration agents in his corn field. Recently, Hill’s 10,000 acre farm sold its carbon credits at $ 16.50 per ton, through a Seattle-based startup called Nori, which allows companies and individuals to purchase carbon credits to offset their own carbon emissions.

Who paid Hill to return carbon to the soil? The ecommerce platform Shopify, Arizona State University, and various people.

While Hill points out that many farmers are still on the sidelines due to the added cost of special equipment and such, a market is forming of companies wanting to work with farmers to sequester carbon for cash.

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For example, while Nori only has a few registered farmers to sell through them, an agricultural technology company in Boston called Indigo-Ag, whose clients include Dogfish Head Breweries and JP Morgan Chase, sells carbon offsets on one million acres in 21 states.

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Biden wants to ensure that large farms have the opportunity to expand their income and protect the climate in this way, which can boost US yields of roots and cover vegetables, also increasing food production.

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