(p. A2) AINSWORTH, Iowa—What if there was a way to combat climate change that didn’t require technological breakthroughs, carbon taxes or eliminating all fossil fuels?
Such a solution might lie here in an Iowa cornfield beneath the feet of Mitchell Hora, a seventh-generation farmer. Mr. Hora experiments with “regenerative growing practices” that improve soil health, boost yields, reduce water and fertilizer use, and carry a significant collateral benefit: they sequester in the soil carbon released from burning fossil fuels.
Mr. Hora could soon be rewarded for providing this social benefit. Indigo Ag Inc., a Boston-based company specializing in agricultural technology and management, is setting up a market for carbon credits. Companies and consumers with voluntary or compulsory commitments to reduce their carbon footprint can, rather than reduce emissions themselves, pay farmers to do it for them. Via the Indigo Carbon marketplace, they can pay farmers like Mr. Hora $15 to sequester one metric ton of carbon dioxide in the soil.
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David Perry, Indigo’s chief executive, is almost messianic about the potential: “We could soak up half to 100% of all the carbon dioxide emitted since the industrial revolution,” or roughly one trillion tons.
The Rodale Institute, a think tank that promotes organic agriculture and has partnered with Indigo, cites trials that suggest through regenerative growing practices, an acre of agricultural land can sequester one to 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide a year. Extrapolating to the world, that equals the about 37 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide released globally through fossil fuel use each year.
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(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Sept. 11, 2019, and has the title “CAPITAL ACCOUNT; How to Get Rid of Carbon Emissions: Pay Farmers to Bury Them.”)