Carbon 101: What Farmers Want to Know

By now, most farmers have heard about carbon programs but few have signed up. What’s holding them back? Surveys conducted across the industry – whether by Corteva, AgriPulse, Successful Farming or Purdue – confirm what we’ve known all along. Farmers still have plenty of questions about this evolving marketplace.

We’ve got answers, starting with the questions we hear most.  

? What’s an agriculture carbon program and how does it work?

Corporations face increasing pressure from investors, employees and customers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. To offset their pollution, these companies purchase carbon credits as a way to “make up” for their emissions today, and agriculture is one of the avenues to do that. 

Carbon programs help farmers generate carbon credits from implementing soil health practices that sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and into their soil. These practices include cover cropping and reduced tillage.  

This simple overview illustrates how Corteva’s program works:

Graphic showing how farmers get paid for carbon credits. 1) Demand for cutting greenhouse gases (CO2) is growing. 2) Healthy soil practices can store CO2 in soil. 3) The CO2 you store is measured and packaged into credits. 4) Companies buy your credits from Corteva to reduce their carbon footprint. 5) Corteva pays you for your credits.

? How does a farmer earn carbon credits?

By introducing soil health practices, a farmer can “sequester” or capture CO2 from the atmosphere into the soil and/or avoid greenhouse gas emissions. For every 1 metric ton of carbon sequestration or emissions reductions, a farmer earns 1 carbon credit. Your carbon sequestration, or carbon yield, is measured by the eligible practice(s) you choose and data-driven models that predict soil carbon based on soil type and sampling, and weather data 

? What’s the role of a company like Corteva Agriscience in a carbon market?

Imagine the time, effort, and science needed to generate and sell a carbon credit. To get paid, farmers must measure their carbon sequestration rates field by field, certify their credits with regulatory bodies, and then negotiate credit prices with individual companies.   

Corteva helps farmers click the “easy button” on carbon by acting as an aggregator — helping you access a carbon credit marketplace while building trust among buyers that they’re purchasing premium, certified credits.

? How Can I Start Earning Credits?

Farmers can access numerous, newly-launched carbon programs. Many pay $5 – $20 per acre/year for the greenhouse gas (GHG) sequestered by introducing eligible regenerative practices like cover cropping and/or reduced tillage. Many also require farmers to sign a long-term contract (in some cases from 10 to 20 years) to implement these practices and submit practice data annually. From there, farmers receive a yearly cash payout for the verified and validated practices they’ve implemented, either by acre or credits earned.

? How does Corteva’s carbon program work? 

Here’s how our program works:

Graphic showing how Corteva's carbon program for farmers works. 1) Choose your practices and select your fields. 2) Use Granular Insights to securely log practices. 3) Allow carbon-specific soil sampling at no cost to you. 4) Produce carbon credits measured by Indigo & certified by Climate Action Reserve. 5) Get paid premium prices for credits sold through Indigo's buyer network
The Climate Action Reserve is an independent nonprofit that establishes strict standards for quantifying and certifying GHG emissions reduction projects to ensure the integrity, transparency, and financial value in the North American carbon market.

Get All the Facts on Carbon

Dig deeper into the facts on carbon markets — from whether a carbon program makes sense for you to knowing what questions to ask before you sign a contract — with our online Carbon Farming Resource Guide (also available in downloadable PDF format).

Have specific questions about your eligibility for a carbon program?