Get Set To Cash In On Carbon

No-tillers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to harvesting the economic benefits of carbon sequestration.

When it comes to finding the solution to global warming, no-tillers will definitely play a key role. You may also be eligible to receive some supplemental income for sequestering carbon from your permanently no-tilled fields in the future.

With carbon sequestration taking on an added environmental meaning, Dean Martens offers some suggestions on how to cash in on carbon sequestration.

The soil carbon-to-nitrogen ratio is critical to carbon sequestration, says the soil scientist with the the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in Tucson, Ariz. “Soil carbon cannot be increased without a strong fertility program.”

He adds that continuous no-till corn produces more biomass carbon than other rotations, such as no-till corn and soybeans, and most newly sequestered soil carbon is mainly found in stabilized plant residue or fresh material that is still undergoing decomposition. Not tilling the soil also plays a huge part in the success of carbon sequestration. To illustrate this, Martens cites three long-term studies evaluating carbon sequestration in three different soil types.

Maximize No-Till Crop Residue

From a 1980 to 1993 study of continuous corn and a 1994 to 1998 continuous soybean study on a silty loam soil in Rosemount, Minn., it was determined that carbon sequestration is dependent on maximizing the amount of residue that is returned to the soil surface. The studies also indicated that both carbon and nitrogen are necessary to increase your soil’s carbon content.

As an example, continuous soybeans completely eliminated the soil carbon increases that were found with a…

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