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In Touch & In Tune: July 2021
Author: Dr. Jennifer Wells
The Growing Climate Solutions Act recently passed in the Senate by an overwhelming majority of 92 to 8 and is now headed to the House of Representatives. This is a huge step in ensuring that carbon market ecosystems are here to stay as a real solution to fight climate change. If passed by the House, this act would help growers participate in carbon markets in several ways.
First, it would provide additional funding to the USDA to research, identify and highlight practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and/or sequester carbon. Reduced tillage and cover crops are currently the two key practices that sequester carbon, but there is still a lot to learn in this space. With the additional research resources and efforts, agriculture would be able to make reduced tillage and cover crops more adoptable and successful on a broader scale, as well as find other practices to sequester carbon.
Second, the bill would create a USDA certification carbon measuring process for third-party companies. This would create a uniform and verified process for all companies so the farmer can be sure the credits they generate are measured consistently.
Lastly, it would create a farmer advisory board to work with the USDA to make sure the carbon markets are delivering a financial value to the farmers and not only adding value to the carbon buyers. Farmers and ag retailers are finally getting the recognition they deserve as the world is figuring out that soil health can play a key role in climate change.2
A key component of soil health is tillage management. While every field cannot be no-till, it is worth taking the time to consider if your fields could benefit from some type of conservation tillage. Conservation tillage is taking the approach to try to minimize the frequency or intensity of tillage operations to gain economic and environmental benefits. In addition to the environmental benefits to sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conservation tillage also helps farmers by relying less on farm machinery reducing costs fuel and labor costs, as well as improve soil health, reduce runoff and erosion, and minimize weed pressure.1,3
Not every field is the same, so we recommend selecting one or two fields to start with so you can, learn as you go and expand each year. The USDA has published 6 tips for switching to no-till that can also be applied to implementing conservation tillage as well.4
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