Start-ups Help to Pay Farmers to Sequester Carbon — H2O Radio @H2OTracker #ActOnClimate

Biological carbon sequestration is the long-term storage of carbon in soils and vegetation resulting from applications of compost and mulch to land. Soils hold more carbon than the atmosphere or plant and animal life combined. Climate experts say no strategy to reduce climate change is complete without using the vast carbon sinks available in the world’s soils. Over the centuries, human activities have degraded soil, resulting in the loss of a significant portion of their carbon content to the air. Graphic credit: Cal Recycle

From H2O Radio:

Farmland could capture around 20 percent of the annual emissions of carbon dioxide, but one issue has been how to incentivize farmers to engage in practices like no-till and planting cover crops that sequester the greenhouse gas. Yale Climate Connections reports that some start-up companies are getting into the game, using the sale of carbon offsets to help pay farmers to use sustainable practices.

One company called Indigo Agriculture promised last year that farmers who signed up for its program would receive at least $15 per metric ton of carbon sequestered. The payments are to be financed partly through the sale of offsets, which go for $20 per ton. According to Indigo’s website, as of February 2, growers had committed close to 18 million acres to the program.

Another start-up, Seattle-based Nori, recently launched an online marketplace, connecting anyone who wants to fund sequestration with farmers in a pilot program. According to the company, a recent transaction moved enough carbon credits to pay a Maryland farmer more than $80,000—enough to capture more than 5,000 metric tons.

According to Rattan Lal, a soil expert at Ohio State University, the benefits of carbon-rich soil go beyond climate—it’s also vital for food security, water quality, and biodiversity. Losses of carbon from the soil can be reduced through minimizing soil disturbance, keeping the soil covered, and rotating crops. But, according to Lal, less than 10 percent of cropland is currently farmed this way.

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