CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — The growing trend toward carbon sequestration in cropland has propelled changes in opportunities for farmers. Once told they could not participate, long time conservation-minded farmers are now being told their agronomic practices can be rewarded.

Companies paying farmers for reduced tillage and use of cover crops only wanted those who agreed to start doing that. But now Indigo Ag has a program for farmers who are already doing it, said Chief Strategy Officer Chris Harbourt.

“The next step for us in our overall program is to repeat, to be excellent at this, we’re moving into different crops. We’ve recently brought cotton on board so farmers in the south and the Mississippi Delta can participate now in a better way,” Harbourt said. “And then beyond that, we are looking at different opportunities for farmers who are already doing these practices to benefit from it. Those farmers who are doing no-till, those farmers who are doing cover crops, who’ve said ‘These carbon programs are not right for me.’ We’re actually getting programs into place now that raise the price or the value of that crop, so corn is more valuable if these practices are on it. We’re able to find a premium for those farmers through some of our sourcing programs.”

So if somebody was raising no-till beans or no-till corn, and they’re already using cover crops, you may add 25, 50 cents a bushel to their sale prices as a carbon premium.

“Correct. It’s coming in as a premium, so we’re working with the buyers of the grain and those are the ones that are working with the consumer-packaged good companies to make it all happen,” Harbourt responded. “We’re able to combine that altogether and make sure the farmer gets that premium.”

Is that 25 or 50 cents somewhere within the realm, or am I low or high?

“It’s somewhere within the realm. In some cases its more, depending on the value of the crop, and in some cases its less,” Harbourt responded. “It all depends on the value to that brand, of making that commitment to, say, on the side of a box of cereal, or on the side of a box of cake mix. The buyer saying ‘I appreciate what they have done,’ and they’ve sourced those ingredients and the brand is willing to pay a little more for that messaging to their customers.”