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Just Because You’ve Been Successfully No-Tilling & Seeding Cover Crops for 17 Years Doesn’t Mean You’ve Got to Forgo Cashing in on Carbon Sequestration Payments

When it comes to carbon sequestration payments, the major frustration we hear from many no-tillers is that they don’t believe they’ll be accepted due to the “additionality” requirements of some programs. In fact, it’s exasperating to hear no-tillers say they’ll be shut out from these programs when they see less environmentally conscious farmers profit by moving to the same reduced tillage and cover crop practices they’ve been using for decades

‘Additionality’ Concerns

The “additionality” belief, a major stumbling block, may be a myth in some instances. Even if you are already doing one or more of the qualified practices, chances are good that you’ll still be able to participate. Some programs say you must do something new on some acres, while others award dollars for past practices.

Yet the disbelief shown in an email from an Iowa no-tiller is typical:

“I’ve considered applying for a few carbon programs and still remain skeptical, even though I know my farming practices help improve carbon cycling. And I have no-tilled long enough now that I wouldn’t qualify for many of the programs.”

He’s already reducing his farm’s overall carbon footprint by implementing regenerative practices that include fewer trips across the field; less fuel to plant, fertilize and harvest; and less reliance on buying synthetic inputs.

But what’s interesting from the email is that he likely could qualify for a carbon program with a diversified 4-crop rotation that includes corn, soybeans, small grains and food-grade crops that help him reduce input needs, build soil…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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