The importance of soil organic carbon (SOC) in agricultural systems and its positive effects on soil health is well recognized. Additionally, SOC plays a crucial role in climate change. Soils are able to sequester carbon from the atmosphere in form of SOC. If appropriate agricultural practices are performed such as leaving harvest stumps on the field or reducing tillage intensity, SOC can be increased and stored in the long term. This has developed a new market called the carbon credit market that involves farmers that are sequestering carbon in their fields (earning carbon credits) and companies that buy these credits to compensate for their emissions. Entering this market can be a challenge, it is a long term process with strict protocols for soil testing. With the AgroCares Scanner, it is possible to measure on-the-spot SOC content in soils, with our innovative technology we strive to facilitate and support farmers and advisors throughout this process and enter the carbon market together.
What are carbon credits?
A carbon credit is a generic term for any tradable certificate or permits representing the right to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide or the equivalent amount of different greenhouse gas. Carbon credits are bought by organizations or individuals that emit greenhouse gases and want or need to compensate for their emissions. Carbon credits are sold by organizations that can prove they have sequestrated carbon in a certain way: either directly in trees or soil, or indirectly by reducing existing emissions. These transactions occur on carbon credit markets, as described in the figure below. The farmer interested in earning carbon credits gets in contact directly or via a local organisation with the implementer. The implementer is an organization that with a team of experts guide farmers to achieve the sustainability goals required to enter the carbon credit market. The implementer also puts in contact with the sellers and buyers of carbon credits.
How to turn carbon sequestration into money?
The first step is planning and registering your project. For that, you need to fulfil certain eligibility requirements which include knowing if the current soil carbon levels can be increased by improving management activities in the field. For that, the SOC needs to be measured in a certified laboratory. If you do not know your soil status before you might submit your samples to the lab and not be accepted to enter the market. AgroCares Scanner and the Carbon Monitor App are suitable for a preliminary assessment of the different fields to check if they would be eligible to take part in a carbon credit project. This technology is affordable and fast, within 10 minutes you are able to assess the SOC in your soil. If AgroCares Scanner shows SOC values within the range where your field could be eligible for the carbon market, the soil samples can then be submitted to a certified laboratory to register your project. The goal of AgroCares is to ensure that such a process only starts with the guarantee that your project is potentially able to enter the market.
After your project has been registered and you have implemented new land management activities for a few years, you need to be able to prove the outcome of your activities to earn carbon credits. This can be done under different methodologies in order to be certified by a recognized standard. Standards refer to SOC stocks as the main indicator. AgroCares services can monitor SOC levels in your field, to easily know when the carbon stock has increased enough to be able to obtain carbon credits. To officially report an increase in your carbon stock you need to have a full report which among other requirements includes a sample plan made by a soil expert, soil samples need to be extracted by a soil technician and they need to be analysed in a certified laboratory. This process is expensive and time-consuming, for this reason, monitoring when your soil has increased significantly its SOC and is ready for such a process is key to obtain maximum benefits.
Interested in measuring Soil Organic Carbon? Check out our new Carbon Monitor application here and contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org to get a demo.