Most farmers are well aware that building up soil carbon is key to boosting yields, which in turn boosts profits. Now, farmers are able to profit from selling the carbon credits they produce with good stewardship on their farms.
This week, the first ever carbon credits generated from rice farmers were sold to Microsoft. Arkansas farmer Chris Isbell and six other farmers – two from California and five from Arkansas and Mississippi – sold carbon offset credits generated from their rice farms by implementing conservation practices that reduce methane emissions.
For the past four years, the California Air Resources Board, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and other partners, including KCoe Isom, have been working behind the scenes to develop protocols that allow farmers to offset carbon emissions and get compensated for their efforts.
How does it work, exactly? Robert Parkhurst, EDF’s agricultural greenhouse gas markets director, says the carbon market is split into two components, compliance and voluntary. The two main compliance markets are driven by California and Quebec. In the California market alone, the state’s businesses will look to offset as much as 200 million tons of carbon by 2020.
With support from the Conservation Innovation Grants program at USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, the partnership is leading a nitrogen management pilot project that will determine the feasibility of developing carbon credits by improving fertilizer efficiency on croplands.
You can read more about the carbon credit offerings on EDF’s blog that highlights the growers who led this effort: http://blogs.edf.org/growingreturns/2017/06/14/