Co-op creates grower’s carbon compensation plan

Land O’Lakes aspires to bring soil sequestration program to Canada, initially rolls it out 
in the U.S.

One of America’s largest farmer-owned co-operatives launched a new carbon sequestration program that enables farmers to generate and sell carbon credits to private sector buyers.

Land O’Lakes sustainability business, Truterra, launched its TruCarbon program that will pay farmers US$20 per ton to sequester carbon in their soils, beginning this summer.

Jason Weller is the vice-president of Truterra and he said TruCarbon will initially be available to American growers, but the company aspires to expand to Canadian growers.

“It’s going to be focused on row crop producers in the (United States) and it’s an opportunity for farmers to be essentially rewarded for their great soil management and great soil stewardship,” Weller said.

“This is a carbon removal program where we have buyers interested in actually offsetting their carbon emissions, but they don’t actually have a connection to the land. This is a way for TruCarbon to connect that buyer of carbon credits with farmers.”

Microsoft has agreed to purchase carbon credits through TruCarbon.

Weller said agriculture is one of the best solutions to offset greenhouse gas emissions from other sectors and from the agri-food system, and that it can be done in a way that helps farmers.

He said many farmers already adopt production practices that promote the sequestration of carbon because this helps their bottom line, and that TruCarbon will make these practices pay off even more.

Producers will use the Truterra Insights engine data platform to help them decide which fields can provide them returns from carbon sequestration.

Precision Ag information that farmers and ag retailers already create will be used to verify that carbon has been sequestered, including crop variety, planting date, in season applications of fertilizer and crop protection products, tillage practices, harvest date and yield data.

The farm management data is paired with environment data, including soil types and weather to estimate how much carbon has been sequestered in a field.

Truterra will handle the soil testing and other activities designed to ensure the program offers high quality carbon credits.

“So we are going to be using advanced soil testing capabilities to look at what is the soil organic carbon levels in the soils, and will compensate the farmer for the amount of carbon their system has measurably pulled out of the atmosphere and stored in the ground,” Weller said.

He said TruCarbon will look at the entire rotation of any field entered in the program, but producers can choose which fields they enter.

“We want to always ensure the farmers are the ones making the decisions that’s best for their farm,” Weller said.

“Beyond the specific cash crop they may be farming, whether it’s a grain or pulse crop, in addition to that this can now be a new crop, a carbon crop they can now bring to the market and be part of their overall production system.”

He said the amount of carbon per acre producers can sequester will vary with soil type, production system and weather.

“It’s anywhere from about a quarter-ton up to half a ton per acre is what we estimate is a reasonable, conservative estimate for what we believe farmers could be eligible for,” Weller said.

“That would be in a no-till system that is using high-residue crops and where possible using cover crops.”

Land O’ Lakes is a farmer owned co-operative and a network of agricultural retailers including some located in Canada.

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