Regenerative agricultural practices like cover-cropping and no-till are effective at reducing greenhouse gasses (GHGs) while building climate-resilient soils. But for growers, the early-year costs of implementing new practices slow adoption for individual farms and at scale across the country. Traditional carbon marketplaces pay growers for carbon sequestration via regenerative practices, but many of these marketplaces come with costs that outpace the costs of early-year implementation, and it can take farms years to realize financial rewards.
A recent study showed that 72% of farmers were aware of carbon credits but only 3% have enrolled. Cover Crop Strategies (NTF) asked Anne Fairfield-Sonn, director of corporate communications at CIBO Technologies, for feedback on the slow progress.
“Two of the biggest barriers to adoption are high levels of risk to enter the new carbon markets and the high startup costs of adopting new practices. Carbon markets as they exist today are not built for farmers, despite what most may say. Growers are asked to take on a high level of risk. Although expected to grow significantly, the average price per ton of reduced/sequestered carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) is not sufficient to cover startup costs for growers implementing new practices.
“Many of these carbon markets also require growers to make long-term commitments that do not align with the realities of their farming businesses. As a result, growers are reluctant to participate and enrollments remain low, with many existing participants frustrated and underpaid.”
To embrace carbon markets, “farmers need to understand how they can access real cost share, reduced risk — including agronomic support and financial risk reduction — upside in the carbon marketplace, flexibility, and the agronomic benefits of regenerative agriculture,” she says.