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Before joining a carbon program, some farmers will have more questions to answer than others, depending on how they farm. The biggest factor is how familiar a farmer is with carbon farming practices – such as cover crops, reduced tillage, and diverse crop rotations – and their willingness to adopt, maintain, and optimize these practices. A farmer must ask: what am I getting with this carbon program, as opposed to with any of the dozen other programs?
To that end, we asked Carbon by Indigo crop production specialist Nate Platt and agronomist Andrew Esser for tips and tricks they share with farmers interested in being successful in a carbon program.
What is one thing you want farmers to know about carbon programs?
Nate Platt: I wish they knew it was a lot easier than people think it is. You don’t have to go 100% into changing the way you farm. You don’t have to go 100% full no-till. We are here to work with the grower to create more carbon credits. We’re here to help enhance their farms. The benefits are that we have improved soil health, improved plant health, and practices that are going to keep the ground here forever.
Andrew Esser: The number one thing I’d like to tell producers is: make sure you have your farm data together, in terms of what you’re doing with your operation, where you’re doing it, and when. Every carbon program, on some level, requires agronomic details to verify their credits. If you get it together now, you’ll have a much easier time finishing enrollment later.
What mindset does a farmer need to succeed with a carbon program?
A.E.: Just have an open mind. This is a learning process for both parties. There’s going to be some bumps along the way, since all of the programs on the market now are either brand new or relatively new. One advantage of Carbon by Indigo is that we’ve been at this for years now, working to make the program’s model sustainable and rigorous.
N.P: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You should be able to rely on a carbon program to bring you a wealth of resources and perspectives to solve your particular agronomic challenges. At Indigo, we have some of the best people and the best educational materials—all at the grower’s disposal through our app. Our agronomists are there to help usher in change. So don’t be afraid to ask questions and put yourself out there. You might be onto something special with how you’re thinking.
What expectations should a farmer have going into a carbon program?
N.P.: If you’ve set a practice change, don’t go against it. There are instances where we might have to adjust the carbon farming technique for weather or some other unexpected circumstance, but we want to set that baseline. For a new land management practice to do its job well – and to have it qualify in a carbon program – you’ve got to keep it in place.
A.E.: Don’t expect to get rich quick. Don’t expect to see results overnight, in terms of the effect of these more sustainable practices on your soil health. Sometimes, things take a bit of time. Don’t get frustrated with it. It may be completely new, maybe only somewhat new. It’ll feel odd to operate out of normal conditions. It takes time. Be patient.
Each farm operator is advised to independently consider any potential risks and benefits of any decisions relating to their operation. Indigo does not make any representations, warranties or guarantees as to any agronomic, financial or market outcomes. Terms, conditions and limitations apply to participation and enrollment in Carbon by Indigo- see program agreement for details.