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Carbon Sequestration

ridge till, courtesy of the NRCS, photo by Gene Alexander Carbon sequestration is the process through which agricultural and forestry practices remove carbon from the atmosphere. Sequestration slows the rate of climate change by enhancing carbon storage in trees and soils, preserving existing tree and soil carbon, and reducing emissions of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.

Farms can sequester carbon and reduce emissions of methane and nitrous oxide in a variety of ways. These include (to name a few) conservation tillage, conservation or riparian buffers, grazing land management, reducing the use of synthetic fertilizer, handling manure differently, capturing and burning methane, reducing irrigation, and switching to biofuels.

A number of programs are beginning to purchase and sell the carbon credits that are created from these sequestration activities. Prices are still low and opportunities are limited in this new and growing market. But if you are willing to commit to carbon sequestration activities, you may be eligible to receive payment for doing so. This page will help you understand more about these opportunities.

NOTE: Some of the following documents are available as Adobe Acrobat PDFs. Download Acrobat Reader.

ATTRA Publications

Agriculture, Climate Change and Carbon Sequestration - IP338


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Biochar and Sustainable Agriculture - IP358

Kindle Price: $0.99

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Pursuing Conservation Tillage Systems for Organic Crop Production - IP183


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Success Stories

Haubenschild Farms
Located near Princeton, Minnesota, Haubenschild Farms is one of the first in the country to sell carbon credits for its anaerobic digester on the Chicago Climate Exchange. [PDF/226K]
Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association
Washington farmer Karl Kupers and a group of partners, known as the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association, are selling carbon credits created through conservation-tillage of their fields. The group entered into a 10-year contract with Louisiana-based Entergy Corporation, which uses the credit for carbon-dioxide-emissions reductions achieved by the farmers to offset carbon dioxide emissions from the company's power plants in the United States. The project reduces carbon dioxide emissions 30,000 tons over a 10-year period, according to the contract. The farmers only received one-time payments of $250, but when the contract is up, the farmers retain the carbon credits, which can then be sold to the highest bidder.



AgraGate Climate Credits Corporation
A new company launched in July 2007 and owned by the Iowa Farm Bureau striving to help American farmers, ranchers and private forest owners earn money through the sale of credits from their land.(Site is currently down, here is some info on what they do)
Carbon Sequestration in Agriculture and Forestry, EPA
This EPA website provides information carbon sequestration in agriculture, including Agricultural & forestry practices that sequester carbon and reduce other greenhouse gases, basic science background, and U.S. national analysis on current sequestration rates, and the potential for additional sequestration and greenhouse gas reductions in agriculture and forestry.
Chicago Climate Exchange
Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), launched in 2003, is the world's first and North America's only active voluntary, legally binding integrated trading system to reduce emissions of all six major greenhouse gases (GHGs), with offset projects worldwide. CCX has developed contracts for the following types of projects:
Climate Change and Agriculture: Report from the Center for Rural Affairs Task Force
A report commissioned to review information on climate change and its relationship to agriculture and make recommendations about what people and government should do. Most task force members were farmers and ranchers.
Climate Friendly Farming Project
This Washington State University project is helping farmers develop and implement agricultural systems and practices that mitigate global climate change. This five-year project focuses on dairy production, irrigated crop farming, and dryland grain farming.
EPA - Agriculture and Food Supply
Agriculture is highly sensitive to climate variability and weather extremes, such as droughts, floods and severe storms. This page describes potential effects of climate change on agriculture and food supply, including climate factors and implications.
Iowa Farm Bureau Carbon Credit Program
A carbon credit aggregation program that allows farmers to register and sell carbon credits from agricultural practices, such as no-till planting, restoring wetlands, converting cropland to permanent grass or trees, planting conservation buffers, using cover crops and using an on-farm methane digester.
National Carbon Offset Coalition
Founded in 2001, NCOC's sole focus is to help farmers, ranchers and private forest owners and tribal and state governments tap the sale of carbon credits derived from their land as a revenue stream. The credits are being traded on the Chicago Climate Exchange (see above).
National Farmers Union Carbon Credit Program
Allows ag producers and landowners to earn income by storing carbon in their soil through no-till crop production, conversion of cropland to grass, sustainable management of native rangelands and tree plantings on previously non-forested or degraded land. In addition, the capture of methane from anaerobic manure digester systems can also earn carbon credits. Farmers Union has earned approval from the Chicago Climate Exchange (see above) to aggregate carbon offsets (carbon credits) and sell them on behalf of producers. Farmers Union enrolls producer acreage into blocks of marketable offsets that are traded on the Exchange, much like other agricultural commodities are sold. Proceeds from the sales are then forwarded to producers as each pool of carbon credits is marketed. National Farmers Union's Carbon Credit Program earned more than $2.5 million for producers in its first year of operation. Farmers Union is beginning a new enrollment period for no/till, seeded grass and rangeland acres. New contracts will run from 2008 through 2012. A bonus year of 2007 can be earned if the enrollment is completed if the practice was started in 2007 or prior years. In specific cases, rangeland may be eligible for prior years' credits as well.



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This page was last updated on: January 19, 2015