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Virginia Agronomist Shares Perspective on Value of Conservation

Dustin Madison sees a clear benefit for farmers participating in CIBO Impact, the technology platform that uses satellite imagery, macro-level agriculture data and proprietary simulations to spotlight the regenerative potential and available carbon credits for every parcel of farmland in the United States. It connects carbon sellers—farmers—to buyers.

“Bringing growers together with consumer-facing companies gets farmers out on a bigger stage,” Madison notes. “There’s not an obvious connection between farmers and big business. You might see in the news that a company like Amazon is trying to reduce its carbon footprint. But do most people think, oh, farmers can help with that? No, not really, not many people think that. But now, farmers can be more involved in the discussion.”

 Madison is a registered Technical Service Provider for Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), certified Virginia Resource Management Planner and Certified Crop Advisor by the American Society of Agronomy. A third-generation farmer, he manages agronomy and conservation efforts on Engel Family Farms, a family-owned operation that raises corn, soybeans, small grains and other crops on 20,000 acres in Virginia. 

“We use some conservation practices all the time, just in different ways in different areas,” he explains. “No-till and cover crops along with other measures that improve soil health help hold in moisture, which is an advantage in a dry year. But during heavy rains, cover crops help hold the soil together. Conservation measures can also provide better weed control and efficiency with fertilizers.”

He adds, “Everyone remembers a good year here and there. We’re looking to keep our averages up and our lows not as low. I use aerial and satellite imagery daily to monitor crops, find trends in farm yields and get an idea of new pieces of land. There’s a lot of data out there that can tell you a lot about a parcel, so you’re not coming in blind.”

Madison is also a member of the CIBO Farmers Advisory Network, a national network of farmers that collaborates with CIBO on continued innovation of the product platforms.

“CIBO Impact helps monetize practices we are already doing,” Madison states. “In previous attempts at accessing carbon markets, farmers had to do most of the work. A platform like this gives farmers a chance to participate without having to invent everything themselves.”

He concludes, “Anytime you can start applying data and modeling to traditional things like farming or raising crops, it’s exciting. You’re mixing the future with something we’ve done for a few hundred years, and it’s thrilling to see where it could go.”



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