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Carbon Markets Stand to Reward ‘No-Till’ Farmers. But Most Are Still Tilling the Soil.

I grew up in a very small town in Ohio, close to farm communities. My best friends dad was a Grade-A dairy farmer and other friends rented land and farmed all kinds of crops We had a small 1/4 acre garden ourselves as well as chickens, 2 goats and a love of caring for land.

There is tons of information out there on why farmers are working hard to no longer till the soil a system that is contemporary in terms of farming. What's really at stake here is returning soil to its original non-pesticide state or more organic farming techniques and an earnest goal to return to permaculture indigenous growing wisdom techniques. I love all of these efforts out there.

But it's not easy for these farmers to make this switch. They have the will, but not always the support by our state and federal governments to find ways to offset costs associated with these critical changes to farming.

This article and link below it helps us understand why:

Most farmers who follow ‘no-till’ practices are only reducing their tilling—which may cancel out the climate and soil-health benefits that have spurred the no-till hype.

As the adoption of no-till practices has spread widely across parts of the U.S. over the past few decades, the approach has been touted as an important means of storing carbon in soil—and a key solution to solving the climate crisis. But despite its recent growth in popularity, “no-till” has no single, agreed-upon meaning. In fact, the phrase is often a misnomer. Most no-till farmers have not cut out tillage altogether and do not engage in other beneficial practices such as planting cover crops. As a result, these “seldom-till” farmers aren’t able to permanently store carbon in their soil. That trend, coupled with the scientific uncertainty on how to measure and verify carbon sequestration, could throw a wrench into the Biden administration’s plan to fund an agricultural carbon trading program (or “carbon market”) as a central response to climate change. “The reality is that 100-percent-never-till is [practiced on] a very small percentage of the acres across the United States,” said Steve Swaffar, executive director of No-Till on the Plains, a nonprofit that hosts an annual conference for no-till farmers in the Great Plains region. “There’s certainly a need to change this.”


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