Regenerative agricultural practices such as cover crops and direct seeding are effective in reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) while creating climate-resilient soils. But for growers, the costs of implementing new practices early in the year are slowing adoption for individual and large-scale operations across the country. Traditional carbon markets pay producers for carbon sequestration through regenerative practices, but many of these markets have costs that exceed implementation costs at the start of the year, and farms can take years to achieve financial rewards.
A recent study showed that 72% of farmers were aware of carbon credits, but only 3% signed up for them. Cover crop strategies (NTF) asked Anne Fairfield-Sonn, director of corporate communications at CIBO Technologies, for her comments on the slow progress.
“Two of the biggest barriers to adoption are the high levels of risk to enter new carbon markets and the high start-up costs of adopting new practices. Carbon markets as they exist today today are not designed for farmers, despite what most may say. Growers are urged to take a high level of risk. Although significant growth is expected, the average price per tonne of dioxide equivalent of carbon reduced/sequestered (CO2e) is not sufficient to cover the start-up costs of producers implementing new practices.
“Many of these carbon markets also require producers to make long-term commitments that do not match the realities of their farm businesses. As a result, producers are reluctant to participate and enrollment remains low, with many existing participants frustrated and underpaid. »
To embrace carbon markets, “farmers need to understand how they can access real cost sharing, risk reduction – including agronomic support and financial risk reduction – carbon market upside, flexibility and agronomic benefits of regenerative agriculture,” she says. .
A new approach to incentives
For growers interested in starting regenerative farming practices, she says the CIBO Carbon Bridge can help because it creates an incentive that addresses those issues. “CIBO bases payments per acre on what producers say they need to cover the costs of adopting new practices. The program reduces risk for farmers now, incentivizes them to adopt regenerative farming practices while having the opportunity to share the benefits, and sell their carbon credits a few years later, when soil carbon markets are more established.
“We also believe in financially rewarding growers who are early adopters of regenerative agriculture. Typically, these industry leaders are not eligible for carbon market programs, but carbon programs are not their only incentive option. We encourage farmers to sign up to be notified when the CIBO Grower platform launches, where growers can quickly discover and sign up for incentive programs for regenerative agriculture.
CIBO also announced its first CIBO carbon deck partnership with Bushel to bring visibility to sustainable practices throughout the supply chain. Bushel, a Fargo, ND software company focused on building digital infrastructure for the grain industry, is committed to working with companies that provide new market opportunities for producers.
Through Carbon Bridge, producers can access the best payments per acre available in year one, based on actual cost estimates. The program also offers agronomic support to qualified growers interested in adopting new practices.
“The new partnership with Bushel helps accelerate the pace and penetration of regenerative adoption and paves the way for greater collaboration across the agricultural value chain,” said Nitzan Haklai, vice president of business development. at CIBO Technologies. “But just as importantly, we’re working to help farms make the transition and cover those initial investment costs that can really become real barriers to a better future for farmers and consumers.”
“We believe that bringing visibility to these new programs is a critical part of helping U.S. growers, and hopefully the rest of the value chain, realize the operational and financial benefits of smart agriculture in the face of climate,” says Allison Nepveux, director of sustainability at Bushel.
“We believe that creating carbon emission reductions will be one of the first real monetizable business opportunities for food and agricultural supply chains. This starts with ensuring that the shift to regenerative practices is economically viable for The CIBO program is a great test example We hope this collaboration is just the beginning of a much larger vision for our grain facilities and their producers.
Bushel provides software technology solutions for the agriculture industry with its flagship mobile application used in nearly 2,000 grain facilities. Last year, Bushel acquired FarmLogs, a leading provider of agricultural management technology systems for row crop farms. This creates a digital infrastructure to connect the farm to grain facility to downstream customers with permission from all parties. This expands sustainability opportunities for producers and grain facilities through verified practices on the farm, from field to GPCs, and eventually to the end consumer.
Individuals and farms can pre-qualify for CIBO carbon deck and sign up to see when the program is available in their area