Carbon Markets

Let Your Land Work For You

Farmers are uniquely positioned to use conservation practices to help sequester carbon from the atmosphere in their soil and be financially compensated for their efforts. But navigating these carbon programs can be complicated – most programs have a different structure for payments, verification, and data ownership. This website was designed to help farmers better understand existing carbon markets and make an informed decision about whether participating in a carbon program makes sense for their operation.

This website is meant to serve as an introduction to carbon programs and though we have tried to make it as comprehensive as possible, it may not contain everything farmers need to know since the carbon market landscape is changing every day. We plan to update this site regularly as more information becomes available. If you still have questions regarding carbon markets after reviewing this site or have a recommendation on how it can be improved, email Julia Brown, OSC Communications Manager, at jbrown@soyohio.org.

Glossary of Terms

Additionality: GHG reductions are additional if they would not have occurred in the absence of a market for offset credits. If the reductions would have happened anyway – without any opportunity for farmers to sell carbon offset credits – then they are not additional.

Carbon Credit: A carbon credit represents one metric tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) that can be traded, sold, retired, etc. Carbon credits can be generated when eligible farmers document sustainability practices that are included in several ‘best practices’ protocols.

Carbon Neutral: Making no net release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, especially through offsetting emissions

Carbon Offset: The production and/or purchase of a carbon credit intended to cancel out the equivalent carbon emissions somewhere else. For example, net-zero carbon emissions does not necessarily mean no carbon is being emitted, as it could mean the equivalent amount of carbon credits have been purchased to cancel out carbon emissions resulting in net-zero emissions.

Carbon Offset Standard: Ensures carbon offset projects meet certain quality requirements such as additionality, permanence, and verification.

Carbon Practice: A agricultural practice that increases soil carbon sequestration. The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) technical guide describes conservation practices that are known to improve soil health and sequester carbon.

Carbon Program: A system of rewards and incentives for owners and operators of agricultural working lands who adopt management practices that reduce the levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and other gases.

Carbon Sequestration: A natural or artificial process by which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and held in solid or liquid form.

Greenhouse Gas: Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are called greenhouse gases. The main gases responsible for the greenhouse effect include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide (which all occur naturally), and fluorinated gases (which are synthetic).

Permanence: The effects of CO2 emissions are very long-lived. Most of the carbon in a ton of CO2 emitted today will eventually be removed from the atmosphere, but around 25% remains in the atmosphere for hundreds to thousands of years. To compensate for this, carbon credits must be associated with GHG reductions that are similarly permanent.

 

Questions to Ask Before Enrolling in a Carbon Program

Programs

  • Who has control over selling the carbon credits? The producer or the aggregator?
  • Can I stack this program with other programs that compensate for conservation practices or carbon outcomes?
  • What is the minimum field size/acreage that is eligible to participate?
  • What is the contract length? Will I need to re-enroll?
  • Can I remove a field from the program and add it back later? Can I drop out of the program entirely?
  • Does it matter if I am not a landowner? What happens if the land ownership changes hands?
  • What support is available to me after I enroll?
  • Can the carbon credits be stored? If so, how long can they be stored?
  • Is there a limit to the number of credits per acre?
  • What is the cost to me? Will I need to invest in new technologies or platforms?
  • How is carbon measured? Will I have to pay for verification or will the carbon program cover those costs?
  • What happens if I am not able to implement the new practice due to the weather? Due to other circumstances?
  • What happens if soil carbon doesn’t increase even after I implement the new practices?
  • Does the company sell other services or products? Are any of these services/products required to be purchased in order to participate?
  • Are any other ecosystem services brokered by the company, such as water quality credits?
  • What changes will occur if a market is established?

Data

  • How much record keeping will I have to do? How often does the data need to be reported?
  • Who owns my data, and what can the aggregator or data manager do with my data? Will they share my data with anyone?

Practices

  • Which practices do I need to implement on my fields to be eligible for enrollment?
  • For how long will I need to adopt or maintain these practices? How long must the carbon stay sequestered?
  • I am already doing these practices in my fields. Will these same fields be eligible?
  • What specific criteria are being verified to show the performance of practices?

Payment

  • What is the total amount paid, the portion I get, and the portion the aggregator or data manager gets?
  • How will I know the amount carbon credits are selling for?
  • How will payments for carbon sequestration be made? Dollars or other currencies?
  • What is the payment schedule?
  • Does the company pay by practice implemented or by carbon credit?
  • Some companies use holdbacks or a percent taken off of the top to cover their role in the process. Are there any fees for this program?

Programs Available to Ohio Farmers

Bayer

CIBO

Ecosystem Services Market Consortium

Farmers Business Network Gradable

Indigo Ag

Nori

Soil and Water Outcomes Fund

TruTerra

Compare Programs Side-By-Side

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