Soil health practices across the country continue to gain traction, and a strong indicator comes in a new Corteva Agriscience survey of over 600 row crop farmers in 26 states. But the survey confirms participation in carbon programs is low.
Ben Gordon with Corteva Agriscience says much of the survey data wasn’t surprising.
“But I think what got us excited about the data that we saw is that there is a lot more interest from both folks that have tried these practices, thinking about reduction in tillage or incorporation of cover crops, as well as those who haven’t,” Gordon explained. “What we found is roughly two-thirds of folks have tried a practice. We know that’s way more than the acreage that we see. We see from USDA that less than a quarter of acres have either of those practices on them, but there’s been an increased interest in sustainability and stewardship and in these practices and the main barriers that we’ve seen are really agronomic know how, equipment, and just return on investment.”
Many of the farmers employing those practices have enough to qualify them to enroll in most carbon programs. But just three percent of those surveyed are enrolled in a carbon sequestration program. Seventy-two percent are aware of carbon offerings.
Now it’s a matter of showing farmers how that return on investment in a carbon program can work.
“We can help bring in that net new revenue to make that business case a little bit stronger so a farmer can at least try and see if one of these practices make sense agronomically,” Gordon said. “They have the desire, so we get excited about giving them another tool to go meet that desire that they have.”
Gordon says Corteva has a carbon solution through Granular, their farm management platform.
“We have a program that connects farmers to buyers for a program that rewards them for changes to no till, strip till, cover cropping or increased nitrogen management. What does that really mean in practice? It means that a farmer signs up for a contract and we guarantee them a set price of $15 per ton and 75 percent of credit value, which means that the farmer will always capture that upside. We have simple, easy contracts so they can get out every year. We have to re-earn that business, and we make it easy for them to execute through our free Granular Insights digital tool.”
Corteva has collaborated with Indigo Ag to bring the benefits of that carbon program to the farmer, even if they elect to work solely with Corteva.
“We want to make sure there is farmer choice out there, and when you look at Indigo Ag, they have premium credits at a very high price point, targeting $30 per ton this year which is double what most programs have. Corteva likes to focus on that farmer, so we’re able to provide farmers access to Indigo Ag’s program, or their credits, while maintaining their status in the Corteva program. They only work with Corteva employees. They will use our digital software so you get all the backing and familiarity and trust of Corteva with all the upside of a company like Indigo.”
That Corteva survey shows farmers are interested in a carbon program when the payout per acre gets to $20. But the majority surveyed would commit to participation if that payout approaches around $40 an acre. So, farmers are willing, but they need the right financial incentive.
Gordon is Portfolio Lead, Carbon Ecosystems and Services at Corteva Agriscience.
From the Corteva news release on Indigo Ag collaboration:
August 26, 2021 – Corteva, Inc. (NYSE: CTVA) has announced the expansion of its Carbon Initiative for the 2022 crop year, supported by a strategic collaboration with Indigo Ag. Corteva’s program continues to provide a simple path for farmers to maximize the value of their soil health practices, now by producing independently verified credits measured, generated and sold through Carbon by Indigo.
Expanded farmer benefits for 2022 now include:
- Aligned Incentives: Farmers will receive 75% of the credit value so as future prices rise, they capture the majority of the upside.
- Premium Prices: Highest quality credits built on Indigo’s scientific rigor maximize the value of this opportunity. Based on market projections farmers could earn as much as $30 or more per credit, with the added security of a guaranteed minimum payment of $15/credit.
- More States: The offering is available across 11 states including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
- More Practices and More Crops: Increased nitrogen use efficiency is an eligible practice change, in addition to introducing cover crops and reducing tillage. The Initiative also now supports 17 of the most common crop types across the U.S.
- Longer Lookback: Farmers will get paid on eligible practice changes that were conducted post harvest of 2020. Through this expansion, the Corteva Carbon Initiative’s core focus remains to help farmers produce carbon credits simply and for a fair price, with programmatic and agronomic support from a Corteva advisor. Farmers are in control of their practices and can use Corteva’s free and easy-to-use digital tool, Granular® Insights™, to securely log those practices, seamlessly measure their impact, and generate premium credits with Carbon by Indigo.
“In a fast-growing agricultural carbon credit market, Indigo’s science-based program is committed to demonstrating real climate impact in service of generating real revenue for farmers. Corteva is a partner who shares our position of farmer’s choice. As with any crop, quality drives value,” said Chris Harbourt, Global Head of Carbon at Indigo. “Mounting demand for high-quality credits has already resulted in price increases of 35% in the first year of our program – before the first credit verification is even fully complete. By collaborating with Corteva to empower farmers to become producers of the highest-quality carbon credits today, farmers stand to maximize their return-on-investment tomorrow and in the future as demand continues to climb.”
Rooted in farmer trust and with a focus on transparency, the Corteva Carbon Initiative now harnesses the power of Carbon by Indigo’s advanced capabilities for measuring and verifying carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas abatement at scale and aligned with industry standards, signaling a meaningful step forward for establishing carbon credits as a new revenue source for farmers. The collaboration brings access to a guaranteed buyer network for independently certified carbon offsets, including leading global organizations such as Boston Consulting Group and JPMorgan Chase.
“Staying true to Corteva’s commitment of delivering farmer-focused sustainable technology to the farm gate, the Corteva Carbon Initiative continues to evolve based on farmer needs,” shared Judd O’Connor, President, U.S. Commercial Business at Corteva Agriscience. “Since we first launched in April 2021 to corn and soybean farmers in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, thousands of U.S. farmers have inquired about our program, so we have worked tirelessly to expand access.”