How it works
6 Steps to Soil Carbon Credits and Mapping
1. Engage producers and associations
We are engaging producer, industry association, research institution and outreach agency support. We need access to the land for sampling, but also require that the producer implements regenerative practices to facilitate the sequestration. Most of the producers working with us have been practicing regenerative agriculture for years.
We currently have commitments from nearly 50 ranches in AB to be part of the first round. The Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta (ARECA - representing the majority of grazing associations in the province), Alberta Forage Information Network (AFIN), Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) and a number of counties in the province committed to support our outreach to more producers. We are currently working on formalizing the aggregation agreements with the producers.
2. Stratification and sampling design
In stratification we outline a sampling area using GPS, then superimpose other data parameters for the area. Relevant data includes gamma radiometrics, electromagnetic satellite imaging, soil type, climate data, historical land use data from the producer, and so on. The stratification map determines the randomized number and locations of samples to be collected.
3. Field sampling
Field crews use the sampling design to gather the soil samples to 1 metre depth. They follow strict protocols to ensure the data is accurate and verifiable.
4. Lab analysis and data processing
Samples are sent to the lab for analysis. Although measuring the SOC is the main focus, we include a series of soil fertility, microbial, genomic and nutrient tests to maximize the data and baselining from each sample. The SOC readings are processed by a machine learning platform, and delivers a soil carbon map, showing the distribution and whole farm number of soil carbon. The result also calculates when the soil should be re-measured to determine the actual carbon sequestration. Subsequent measurements occur generally every 5 years. The measurement data from each round improves the stratification of the next round, improving the accuracy of each cycle.
5. Producer advisory
Advising producers on improving their SOC is a key element of our service, of which the soil carbon map and analysis forms a part. We are working with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry extension agents, soil scientists, agronomists and the applied research and grazing organizations to maximize the reach and benefit of our data to producers.
Our project is the largest soil carbon measurement initiative for farms and ranches to date.
6. Carbon offset aggregation and trading
Offset protocols must be registered on the Alberta Carbon Offset Registry. Once the soil is retested and the actual number of offsets determined, the offsets are aggregated and sold. Although the program can be registered in multiple markets, for example the VCS and in Alberta, an offset can only be sold once.
We are in discussions with the Alberta government to develop 2 new offset protocols – Carbon Accrual Based on Soil Carbon Quantification Protocol and an Avoided Conversion of Grasslands Protocol as basis for approval by provincial governments. These protocols will be written to also be compatible with the voluntary markets such as the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS), American Carbon Registry (ACR) and the California Air Resource Board (CAR)