Carbon Farming:

Creating Commercial Agriculture “Test Beds” for Carbon Sequestration

Credit: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

“Carbon farming” is a term used for the suite of agricultural and land management practices that can remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and store it in soils and plants.

In the atmosphere, too much CO2 is a pollutant that contributes to climate change, but when excess atmospheric CO2 is brought into living terrestrial ecosystems, it becomes a source of biological productivity. Thus, carbon farming could deliver a double benefit: it could help improve agricultural production and sustainability, while simultaneously reducing climate risks.

Carbon farming safely turns a pollutant into a valuable agricultural input.

Now is the time to bring together all of the pieces of carbon farming approaches. Through the establishment of commercial agricultural test beds across a diverse range of geographies and agricultural operations, we will help to demonstrate the viability and benefits of farm management practices that sequester carbon. Our goal is to build a cadre of successful carbon farmers, who can show the value of this work in real-world commercial operations, supported by high-quality science. By bringing together the necessary elements of each test bed, the Center for Carbon Removal aims to empower these farmers as spokespeople for the widespread integration of carbon sequestration activities into the agricultural sector.

 
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Implementation lags behind the promise of carbon farming approaches

While an expansive set of agricultural techniques and practices for sequestering carbon in soils has been well-documented, most of these practices are underutilized -- and some of the most effective approaches are rarely found outside of experimental research plots. One barrier, as with any new technology or practice, is that farmers and ranchers need to build familiarity with such practices and understand how to integrate them into their current operations before they will be adopted at a widespread scale. A second barrier is that markets have proven reluctant to incentivize these practices, in part due to uncertainty about whether they can create durable value, both in terms of carbon sequestration and in the value chain for agriculture.

The  solution: Commercial agriculture test beds for carbon sequestration.

The Center for Carbon Removal plans to address both of these barriers by establishing demonstration “test beds” that can build confidence among land managers and help resolve uncertainties for markets. Specifically, the test beds will consist of seven elements designed to establish the credibility of carbon sequestration outcomes, to demonstrate the commercial viability of the practices, and to share the lessons generated in the test beds with a wide set of interested stakeholders. 

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How can we make this happen?

The Center for Carbon Removal is actively working to operationalize the agricultural test beds. We’re seeking partners who can help us identify the elements that already are in place and work toward filling the gaps. We are aiming to establish the initial test beds underway shortly. Ultimately, we aim to create a self-sustaining community of practice for carbon farming that helps every farmer find practices to grow food in a more resilient and profitable way -- while helping to steward the environment for generations to come.