Farmers must have all their potential qualifying quarters registered with an aggregation company by May 1 of a given year to claim carbon offsets for Conservation Cropping.
The Conservation Cropping Protocol is an updated version of the now expired Tillage System Management Protocol. The Conservation Cropping Protocol continues to provide 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 a third of all seeded acres in Alberta. The protocol is set to expire December 31, 2021 but, like all protocols, can be reviewed at any time.
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:
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.
Current aggregation companies working with the Conservation Cropping Protocol as of September 2019:
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
For the purposes of the protocol, Alberta is divided into 2 regions:
- Dry Prairie (SE corner of Alberta)
Figure 1: Ecozone Boundary Line
One major change from 2018 and on is that 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.
The information contained here is the interpretation of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. Alberta’s carbon offset system is managed by Alberta Environment and Parks. Offset projects must comply with the most recent quantification protocols and program requirements outlined under the Alberta Emission Offset System.
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