Agricultural carbon offsets – Conservation Cropping Protocol

Conservation cropping has been the main protocol used by Alberta farmers looking to earn carbon offsets.

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The Conservation Cropping Protocol ended on December 31, 2021.

See Memorandum: Protocol for Conservation Cropping.


The Conservation Cropping Protocol is an updated version of the now expired Tillage System Management Protocol. The Conservation Cropping Protocol provides opportunities for farmers to earn carbon offsets by:

  • increasing soil carbon levels through no-till management
  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions from lower fuel use

Approximately 600,000 to 700,000 tonnes of carbon per year have gone through the protocol, with adoption estimated at over a third of all seeded acres in Alberta. The protocol is set to expire December 31, 2021.

Carbon harvest

The ‘carbon harvest’ for Alberta producers that are direct seeding works out to around a tenth of a tonne per acre per year in the Parkland area and half that in the Dry Prairie. Irrigated areas in the Dry Prairie harvest carbon at the Parkland rate.

Calculation example based on a $23.00/tonne offset sale price and a 2/3 to 1/3 farmer/aggregator price split:

Parkland area

1000 acres X 0.113 tonnes/acre = 113 tonnes carbon

113 tonnes carbon X $15.33/tonne = $1732 or $1.73/acre

Dry Prairie area

1000 acres X 0.057 tonnes/acre = 57 tonnes carbon

57 tonnes X $15.33/tonne = $874 or $0.87/acre

‘No-Till’ has disturbance specifications of:

  • one pass of an opener with up to 46% soil contact, or
  • 2 passes of an opener (either seeding, fertilizing, or applying manure) of up to 38% soil contact

Up to 10% discretionary tillage in each field is allowed to manage ruts in unseeded wet areas, etc. The former ‘Reduced Till’ category is no longer eligible.

Aggregation companies

Current aggregation companies working with the Conservation Cropping Protocol as of April 2021:

Radicle (formerly Carbon Credit Solutions): 1-877-912-9132

Farmers Edge (for their agronomic customers): 1-866-724-3343

Trimble (formerly AgriTrend) Aggregation: 1-877-276-7526

Protocol boundary

For the purposes of the protocol, Alberta is divided into 2 regions:

  • Parkland
  • Dry Prairie (SE corner of Alberta)

Figure 1: Ecozone Boundary Line

Soil Groups of Alberta


Since 2018 a farmer is required to preregister his potential qualifying quarters with an aggregation company by May 1. The quarters that end up not qualifying can be deducted afterwards.

For 2021 there is an additional condition, fields in existing projects can continue to generate credits, but not new ones. The protocol itself will end on December 31, 2021.


The information contained here is the interpretation of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. Alberta’s carbon offset system is managed by Alberta Environment and Protected Areas. Offset projects must comply with the most recent quantification protocols and program requirements outlined under the Alberta Emission Offset System.

Contact 310-FARM

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Toll free: 310-FARM (3276) (in Alberta)
Phone: 403-742-7901 (outside Alberta)
Email: [email protected]

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