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A better way to sell carbon credits

carbon credit stock

Carbon credits for agriculture show a lot of promise, but the industry remains in its infancy.

One reason: measuring the amount of carbon removed in a given area of soil is difficult and imprecise. It has relied on sampling, which is a spotty and not always accurate means of overall assessment.

How carbon credits work: a corporation that adds carbon to the atmosphere can compensate a grower for switching to sustainable and regenerative practices.

richard smoley produce blueprints

The world of carbon credits may be getting a boost from satellite technology, reports Wired.

Perennial, a startup based in Boulder, CO, “fuses machine learning, ground observations, and satellite data to measure soil carbon accurately and affordably,” according to the company’s website.

Selling carbon credits requires measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV).

“Perennial is the only soil carbon MRV that quantitatively measures soil carbon stock while reducing or eliminating the need for soil sampling and practice data,” the company claims.

The Perennial program involves four steps:

1. Baseline planning. The company’s guided stratification and sampling system enables landowners to “collect accurate, registry-compliant baselines.”

2. Monitoring. Perennial monitors soil carbon, taking on the burden of physical sampling while using far fewer samples than are required by conventional quantification.

3. Submitting to the carbon credit registry. This involves a final reassessment and aid in submitting credit claims.

4. Preselling carbon credits, connecting buyers with sellers.

Perennial uses a combination of physical sampling and satellite remote-sensing technology to monitor soil carbon levels. Soil organic carbon and net greenhouse gas emissions are measured on every field.

Selling carbon credits is not going to be the best option for every operation, but it is one that deserves to be considered.

In a time when growers are being hit on all sides by increased costs, it would be wise to explore every possible source of revenue.


Richard Smoley, contributing editor for Blue Book Services, Inc., has more than 40 years of experience in magazine writing and editing, and is the former managing editor of California Farmer magazine. A graduate of Harvard and Oxford universities, he has published 12 books.