I hope I got your attention with the title of this article because I’m dead serious. I believe carbon credits could be worth $50 per acre for some farmers in the coming years. I will explain my logic, as well as give you our recommendations.

In a nutshell, a lot of people and companies are polluting our planet. In order to feel better about and theoretically counteract the pollution they are causing, they want to pay farmers for “carbon offsets”. This means that farmers must sequester more carbon by building soil organic matter. Today, you may receive payments in the range of $5 to $15 per acre. I believe this could go much higher because it seems like every company and almost every world government is talking about greenhouse gasses and “saving the planet”.

Since crops breathe in carbon dioxide every day, we as farmers have the answer to reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. First, we must raise higher-yielding crops to increase the overall amount of carbon dioxide being pulled into the plants. Second, we must increase organic matter levels to store the carbon below the ground.

What I’m saying is you could get paid to improve your yields and your soil! Sounds like a good deal to me.

To make things even better, think about this. What is the only energy source that can get BELOW zero in terms of the carbon index scale? It’s not solar. It’s not wind. It’s not even hydroelectric. Instead, it’s biofuels! If farmers produce grain while at the same time building soil organic matter, it is entirely possible to have ethanol, biodiesel, or any other biofuel produced with a grand total score BELOW zero on the carbon index scale.

My advice is to start researching this and considering the options on your farm to eventually build soil organic matter. When you increase your organic matter levels, you will have more water and nutrient holding capacity. Your soils will be more porous, host more beneficial microbes, be more forgiving when it comes to compaction, and be more likely to raise high yields.

If you want to start selling your carbon credits today, you can. Our recommendation is not to get locked into a long-term deal unless that payout is really good because most major companies and our federal government are pushing carbon offsets, meaning they will pay trillions of dollars to farmers to sequester more carbon. While $50 per acre for carbon credits may never become a reality, we would hate to see you stuck in a very long-term deal that pays you much less than the current market value.

In terms of the practices you can implement that will build more soil organic matter, we talk about these all the time at our soils clinics. You can reduce tillage, plant crops with lots of roots like corn, use manure or compost, plant cover crops, and use biological products. There will also be incentives to reduce nitrogen use, so make sure you have good levels of every other nutrient in the soil, especially sulfur. When other nutrients are ample and in balance, nitrogen can be used more efficiently by plants, meaning the amount of N you need per bushel is less.

If you haven’t started looking into carbon credits yet, this whole thing may seem a little crazy, but the main thing to focus on is what I said above. Whether you believe in global warming, greenhouse gasses, and the need to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere or not, many people, governments, and companies do, so there will be dollars available for you to boost your yields and organic matter levels in your soil if you want to participate.