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Iowa farmer first to be paid for storing high volume of carbon

Shopify is the first corporate buyer of agricultural carbon credits from a CarbonNow farmer.

P.J. Griekspoor, Editor

October 30, 2020

4 Min Read
 Kelly Garrett standing next to corn stalks
PAY DAY COMING: Kelly Garrett is expecting a check from Shopify which his buying 5,000 of his available 22,745 carbon credits. He is the first CarbonNow farmer to get paid for a high volume of carbon storage. Photos courtesy of LocusAG

Western Iowa farmer Kelly Garrett has become “the face of CarbonNow” as the first farmer in America to receive a high-volume purchase order for the carbon that he has sequestered in the soil of his farm.

He has e-commerce giant Shopify to thank for his payment. It will become the first high-volume corporate buyer of carbon credits from a Locus Ag CarbonNow farmer. Shopify is finalizing its initial high-volume purchase through Nori’s carbon removable marketplace to buy 5,000 of his carbon credits worth $75,000.

The purchase is part of Shopify’s Sustainability Fund, which is a commitment to invest $5 million annually in the most promising technologies and projects fighting climate change. It has an announced goal of spending $1 million annually on carbon removal.

Locus Ag is one of several companies that are developing carbon credit programs, but its CarbonNow program differs in significant ways from other programs like those that Indigo and General Mills are developing. It is also the first to pay a farmer with a high volume of sequestration, which has a threshold of credits in the thousands.

The carbon stored by Garrett’s farming practices was quantified using the USDA’s COMET-farm tool and the practices were verified by an ANSI-certified third party. In Garrett’s sale, practices were verified by Aster Global.

Garrett says he supplied information from the Farm Service Agency and crop insurance records to verifiers and also offered photographs of the farm, including those showing cattle grazing on corn stalks. Garrett says his farm has been 100% no-till for many years.

Combine harvesting corn
DOUBLE HARVEST: When Iowa farmer Kelly Garrett stepped off the combine at the end of this year’s corn harvest, he not only had a payday coming for the enhanced yield he harvested but for the carbon his crop removed from the atmosphere and stored in the roots of his no-till crop.

“You need microbial life in the soil to digest nutrients and make them available to plants,” he says. “I want to do even more than I am doing now and I’m excited to be part of this program. Farmers often get painted as big polluters who are contributing to climate change. The reality is that growing crops are major carbon sequesters. Acre for acre, a growing U.S. corn crop sequesters more carbon than the Amazon rain forest.”

Garrett says he was attracted to the CarbonNow program because it not only offers him payment for the carbon sequestered by his farming practices but also provides him access to Rhizolizer from Locus Ag, a probiotic soil technology that reduces fertilizer use, increases yields and enables crops to sequester more carbon — up to 5 tons per acre, where typical conservation practices sequester between 0.2 and 0.5 tons per acre.

He says he has been able to verify the benefits of adding Rhizolizer to his program through tissue samples and he likes knowing that his farm is part of the answer to climate change.

“I am raising my sons with the philosophy that we must always do our best, no matter what we are doing. And this not only helps us to the right thing for the soil, but offers a good, diverse income stream,” Garrett says.

The revenue stream is significant. Garrett’s total credits accumulated over the past five years and available for purchase are worth $341,175. His efforts have resulted in 22,745 metric tons of carbon sequestered. In addition to the 5,000-credit Shopify purchase, Garrett has 15,000 credits on hold for another potential large corporate buyer and 2,745 available to anyone who wants to bid.

All of the credits are available through the Nori marketplace, which is the only platform that currently has credits from farmers available for sale. Garrett is only the second farmer in the U.S. to complete the validation process and is the first to receive a high-volume purchase.

Treated with RHIZOLIZER sign infront of corn field.
ADDED PROBIOTIC: Locus Ag’s CarbonNow program offers participant farmers the opportunity to not only get paid for sequestering carbon, but to maximize yields and carbon storage by using a probiotic product, Rhizolizer.

“Locus Ag’s CarbonNow program helped me become one of the first farmers in the nation to market carbon credit in the Nori marketplace, which will provide unforeseen financial gain to our farm at a much-needed time,” Garrett says. “I would recommend that every farmer look into the value of carbon credits and join CarbonNow to streamline the process, increase tons of carbon per acre and reap the benefits of more productive crops.”

Garrett says his operation is primarily a corn/soybean rotation with some corn/corn acres and some winter wheat.

Locus Ag says that the CarbonNow program with Rhizolizer reduces fertilizer use by up to 10%, increases yields by 9 to 23 bushels to the acre in corn and increases carbon sequestration by up to 5 tons per acre, resulting in a bottom line increase of between $120 and $169 per acre, according to the company website.

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About the Author(s)

P.J. Griekspoor

Editor, Kansas Farmer

Phyllis Jacobs "P.J." Griekspoor, editor of Kansas Farmer, joined Farm Progress in 2008 after 18 years with the Wichita Eagle as a metro editor, page designer, copy desk chief and reporter, covering agriculture and agribusiness, oil and gas, biofuels and the bioeconomy, transportation, small business, military affairs, weather, and general aviation.

She came to Wichita in 1990 from Fayetteville, N.C., where she was copy desk chief of the Fayetteville Observer for three years. She also worked at the Pioneer Press in St. Paul, Minn. (1980-87), the Mankato Free Press in Mankato, Minn. (1972-80) and the Kirksville Daily Express in Kirksville, Mo. (1966-70).

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