Lots of carbon programs exist for farmers and offer incentives for carbon sequestration. Oftentimes, these programs exclude no-tillers and cover croppers because they are already practicing regenerative agriculture. Locus AG recently hosted a digital demonstration, Get Confident in Carbon, with No-Till Farmer. Shane Head, director of customer success at Locus AG, and Mark Hill and Chris Lidgett, both directors of sales at the company, outlined details of the CarbonNOW program that pays farmers for sequestering carbon.
Here are 5 key takeaways from their presentation.
1. Adding Locus AG Products Will Qualify Long-Term No-Tillers
While many farmers who have been no-tilling and using cover crops for years don’t qualify for most carbon credit programs, using Locus AG soil probiotics qualifies as an official practice change and makes longtime no-tillers eligible to enroll.
“The product itself is the practice change or the qualifying additionality in the program,” Lidgett says. “For many of you guys who have been long-term no tillers or long-term cover crop users, you get pushed aside in most programs, whereas we have an option for you to take advantage of our program and get some carbon sequestration payments as well.”
2. Program Offers High ROI
Despite being counted as a practice change, most no-tillers who enroll in the CarbonNOW program won’t have to change much about their farming methods. In most cases, it’s not necessary to buy new equipment or make drastic adjustments. Instead, the program involves adding new products to an already existing program. This leads to a high return on investment because the initial investment cost is minimal in the first place.
The company also estimated that it has distributed more than $1 million in carbon payments to a total group of less than 50 farmers.
3. Guaranteed Payments
The CarbonNOW program is set up to ensure $12 per acre with accruing performance bonuses based on annual free soil testing.
“You get a guaranteed payment so you do not have to be as worried about how much carbon you’re going to sequester year to year,” Lidgett says. “You are going to get a guaranteed payment no matter what.”
While the guaranteed amount is a nice cushion to fall back on, Head says if the soil samples show that carbon was sequestered, the no-tiller will receive a performance bonus.
4. Third-Party Soil Sampling
The program includes third-party soil sampling to ensure everything is accurate. Lidgett says that soil samples are one of the most essential aspects of carbon programs in general — being accurate in reporting data.
“We want to strive to be at the highest level of that, so we have a program that not only helps you right away, it also has staying power in the industry for years to come,” Lidgett says.
Head says after the soil sampling is done, $9 of the total $12 gets paid out right away. The remaining $3 comes after harvest data collection.
“Third-party soil sampling is really a critical part of this,” Head says. “We're using scientific methods to understand how much carbon is actually sequestered in your fields. We do this year over year in the same location control areas, meaning those areas would not have product put on them. We're continually checking our product against your soil to make sure it's working and validating those carbon credits.”
5. Grower Data Portal
Locus AG also implemented a grower data portal and specifically tailored it with farmers in mind. The portal is meant to be easy to use in an effort to not waste any of no-tillers’ time.
“With our newer addition to the data portal and platform, you're going to be able to go in there, see all your fields, all your maps and know what's going on within the program for you at pretty much any given time,” Lidgett says. “It's a very simple program for growers to use in order to see what stage you are at in the carbon program and get the latest update.”
To learn more about the program or check your eligibility for enrollment visit the CarbonNOW website portal.