Scientists estimate that up to 60% of the carbon has been lost from soils since the agricultural expansion of the 1800s. This loss is mostly a result of traditional tillage practices, which turn the soil over and expose it to air. Changing to farming practices such as conservation tillage and prescribed grazing of livestock, or converting marginal croplands to managed grasslands, optimize root growth and minimize soil disturbance. The carbon program encourages adoption of these practices by providing on-the-ground verification that the practices and associated carbon sequestration have occurred.
Verification is available to approved aggregators of agricultural soil carbon offsets. Research and modeling has provided an estimated rate that these two practices sequester carbon dioxide. Knowing the rate allows a value to be calculated and paid to the offset provider. Carbon offsets from the following agriculture practices are currently eligible for verification and, on average in Oklahoma, sequester carbon at the rate shown:
- No-till (0.2 – 0.6 metric ton/acre/year)
- Grassland management (0.4 – 1.0 metric ton/acre/year)
- Rangeland management (0.2 metric ton/acre/year)
Oklahoma agriculture producers interested in entering into carbon contract their conservation tillage fields or grasslands, and having them verified through the state’s carbon program, should contact a state-approved aggregator.