Lately, it seems we have all been hearing about the potential of carbon markets in the agricultural community as a way to address climate change and put additional dollars in farmers pockets, but there is still a lot we don’t know, and extension educators are getting a lot of questions.
To help educators effectively answer the wave of questions coming in, the Network’s soil health team, the Soil Health Nexus, has created a new drawer in their Soil Health Toolbox full of resources on carbon credits and carbon agreements.
“The goal of this new catalog of carbon market resources is to provide educators across the region key resources so they can be as informed as possible when they are advising their clients,” notes Christina Curell, Cover Crop and Soil Health Educator with Michigan State University and member of the Soil Health Nexus leadership team. “We have heard folks say, ‘it’s the wild west right now for carbon markets’ – and that can make it incredibly difficult to field questions from folks who want to know how this could impact them. These resources allow educators to point directly to what the experts are saying.”
The catalog can be found in the Soil Health Nexus Toolbox and includes webinar recordings, extension publications, articles from experts, and NGO reports and factsheets that others have found helpful. It also includes a FAQ document the Nexus created with common questions educators are getting and answers from experts – Brooke Wilke, Associate Director for Science and Agronomy at the Kellogg Biological Station’s Long-term Agroecosystem Research Program at Michigan State University and Dave Aiken, Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The team continues to host their monthly Digital Café series with leading soil health experts and researchers from across the region, and earlier this month featured an edition focused on ‘Soil Carbon Storage in Agricultural Fields’. The café was a deep dive into the current state of the research on soil carbon sequestration featuring Alexandra Kravchenko, Professor in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences at Michigan State University. Alexandra also recently spoke at the team’s regional in-service at the Kellogg Biological Station in September and with her presentation now recorded it is also included in the catalog as a resource for folks.
The team is also working on a new decision support tool that will be debuted on the Soil Health Toolbox next year. The team is creating a Soil Health Matrix – a 101 tool for agricultural professionals to use when working with farmers who want to improve their soil health but have adopted few soil health practices to date. The tool is designed to help producers make soil health decisions and decide which practices will make the biggest impact with regard to soil health. Once finalized, producers will be able to input their current practices around tillage, cover crops, manure, and crop rotation and then input what new practices they are considering and see how that impacts a series of soil health indicators, as well as other factors such as cost, time, equipment, etc. They will also get an overall soil health score to help them make a decision that is right for them.
The Soil Health Nexus team is also working with states to host a series of soil health trainings in 2022 in Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas, and Minnesota – all of which is aiming to increase access to research-based soil health knowledge, extension and resources.