CASHIING IN? Opportunities are emerging in the U.S. for no-tillers and strip-tillers to get paid for the carbon they’re sequestering in their soils, to the tune of $15-$20 an acre this year initially before carbon market startups Nori and Indigo Ag shift to the private market. Several regional opportunities also exist in some states.

‘Getting Paid’ for Your No-Till Soil Health

Indigo Ag, Nori pushing programs to pay farmers for the carbon they sequester, as a switch to the open market looms.

While it may not be an immediate windfall, no-tillers who’ve been doing the right thing to protect and enrich their soils may finally have a chance to cash in on that beyond the money they’ve already saved in fuel, machinery and labor.

Companies like Indigo Ag and Nori are offering to pay farmers for the soil organic carbon (SOC) they sequester in their fields. It’s unclear if the market will pay them for past sequestration, but those able to demonstrate their fields are producing new SOC sequestration year to year could earn extra income.

Early efforts about a decade ago to construct carbon markets through the Chicago Climate Exchange fell apart after lawmakers failed to pass national cap-and-trade legislation. Some local and regional efforts did survive.


  • Make sure to ask companies about who owns your data.
  • Find out what information companies need ahead of time and make sure you have it.
  • Don’t forget to mention what you’re doing to supply chains you’re selling into or buys of crops for which you’re seeking a premium.

A recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report found that carbon sequestration is the lowest-cost way to remove and store excess atmospheric CO2. By adopting specific soil management and crop production practices, farmers can draw CO2 from the atmosphere and deposit it in cropland soils.

Nori and Indigo Ag are working with buyers, especially large companies, who have goals to be carbon neutral or carbon negative in the future and are in the…

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John dobberstein2

John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein is senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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