Some farmers looking to carbon offset credits for additional income

Every year, more Illinois farmers are signing up to participate in carbon capture programs to make some extra income. It has yielded some fruitful results.

John Nergenah is a fourth generation farmer in Morgan County. Along with his father, they have been working with Locus Agricultural Solutions’ CarbonNow program for eight years.

“We are 100% no-till and we also use cover crops on every acre, every year,” Nergenah said. “The carbon markets were an after-the-fact thing that fit with what we were already doing.”

The CarbonNow program pays the Nergenahs $9 an acre for using best practices. When the company comes back to do soil sampling, Nergenah is paid an additional $3 an acre. There is the potential for bonus dollars if the carbon capture results are better than expected. 

Locus Ag translates the data from all the farms in the program into carbon capture credits that are sold to some of the biggest corporations in the world. The corporations buy the credits to offset the amount of carbon dioxide that they produce in the course of doing business. 

Carbon credits are essentially “permits” that allow the corporations to emit carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. 

Because some of the Nergenahs’ land is sloped, they have always had erosion problems. Thirty years ago, Nergenah’s dad started experimenting with no till soybeans, but planting back in the day was tougher. His dad balked when John let the cover crop grow waist-high and when John planted the corn right into the cover crop.  

“With the planters they make nowadays, you can do it,” he said.

John and his dad finally decided to go all in with no-till and cover crops after a rain event 12 years ago. 

“The erosion it caused just irritated me,” Nergenah said. “At that point I said, ‘I’m going to figure out how to do this.’”

The father and son pair appreciates that no-till and cover crops are making the soil healthier.

“With unhealthy soil, you get all the erosion. The water cycle gets messed up. And the nutrient cycle gets messed up. And it all goes down to the rivers and into the Gulf of Mexico,” Negenah said. “Anything we can do to prevent that, we need to be going at it 100%.” 

Nergenah also buys Locus Ag probiotics to treat his seed to increase the photosynthesis of the plants.

“They blend that in with a seed lubricant so the beneficial bacteria goes in with that,” he said. 

The treatment makes the plants healthier and gives them deeper roots.

“The plant takes in more carbon dioxide than it needs. It releases it through the root in a liquid carbon state. That’s how you are taking carbon out of the air and putting it in the ground,” Nergenah said. 

As a farmer, Nergenah is committed to doing the best he can for his land, he said.

“Anything we can do to get more land no-tilled and cover cropped is better for everybody in the long run,” Nergenah said.

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via rk2’s favorite articles on Inoreader

April 23, 2023 at 08:39AM

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