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CropTalk: The Carbon Market: To C or Not to C?

September 2021

Published on Wednesday, September 1, 2021


What hybrid will you plant this year? How will you manage weeds? What’s for lunch? Should I sequester carbon? Until recently, you may not have thought about sequestering carbon, but this topic has entered a more routine line of questioning as programs continue to gain publicity.

Carbon sequestration programs all have a few things in common: you are likely to find many unknowns, presumed facts, and a wide variety of incentive structures that all pivot around gathering data. As with any agronomic decision, the primary question that should still be asked, no matter the program, is what is the best agronomic decision you can make to be a good steward of your land and what methodologies will provide the best return on your investment.

Companies that are enticing farmers to participate in carbon sequestration programs on their farms are often more interested in the data gathered or the opportunity to market carbon neutrality than identifying the best practices for your farm. Typically, success is not measured through actual measurements of carbon sequestered, but simply models that utilize approximations. For example, if a farmer converts to no-till from conventional till that equals X tons of carbon sequestered. If another farmer starts to plant cover crops that equals Y tons of carbon. Always ask, how is success defined and what will happen to the data once acquired.

One thing we know for certain is that farmers are good stewards of the land. Land is a farmer’s greatest asset, and there is no reason to purposefully degrade the soil God gives us to feed families and produce a profitable crop. However, each acre is different, so what works with cover crops in Indiana might not work in Minnesota. Where no-till might be a great solution in Ohio, it may not be the best thing for the soils in Illinois, not to mention the differences that exist from farm to farm in the same state.

Being good stewards, most farmers have implemented “sustainable” practices on their farms for many years. Many of the practices in these programs are agronomically sound, and because of that, it’s likely the practice would already be implemented on their acres if it was the best agronomic solution for that acre. Where opportunities to improve exist, unbiased advice and trusted guidance can come into play to help you understand if signing up for one of these programs is right for your farm.

Resources like Beck’s Practical Farm Research (PFR)®, local agronomists, your local seed advisor, dealer, or someone from the Beck’s Innovation or Grain Team are here to be a resource for you. We invest our time in understanding what is happening in the industry and vet these opportunities out from an agricultural and return on investment standpoint. We are available as a resource to help each farmer find their own individual path to success. How can we help you?

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Author: Kent Gremel

Categories: CropTalk, 2021


Kent Gremel

Kent Gremel

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