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Carbon Farming in Illinois

Illinois country roadway

While driving along rural Illinois roadways during the growing season, the vast sea of corn and soybean rows appear almost boundless. In celebration of Climate Week, and as a soil scientist, my focus immediately shifts belowground to the untapped resources hidden beneath the surface.

Illinois has over 23 million acres of cropland suitable for adoption of practices capable of increasing soil carbon and storage such as planting cover crops and reducing tillage, presenting an exciting opportunity for Illinois farmers to offer immediate, scalable solutions to climate change. In fact, using estimates from AFT’s Carbon Reduction Potential Evaluation Tool™, or CaRPE tool, implementation of these practices, could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 21 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents, equal to removing over 4.5 million passenger vehicles from Illinois roadways for one year.

While implementing these practices seems like an obvious choice for Illinois farmers, transitioning to systems that pose significant management and logistical challenges during times when profit margins are slim to negative is daunting. AFT has produced multiple, two-page case studies detailing the environmental and economic benefits of soil health practices that we hope will be useful to farmers and landowners and give them confidence that investing in these practices is worth the risk.

AFT’s Midwest team is committed to identifying ways that farmers can successfully implement conservation cropping systems that benefit their bottom line. We recently worked with the Illinois Sustainable Ag Partnership to produce a fact sheet summarizing the $300 million in potential carbon market payments available to Illinois farmers. This fact sheet serves to introduce farmers to financial opportunities available for implementing practices that reduce GHGs, summarizing minimum requirements and payments from both traditional financial assistance programs and with market-based approaches.

 

 

For more information on the work AFT’s Midwest team is doing to highlight ways  Illinois’ agricultural lands can contribute to natural solutions to climate change, check out this Illinois Farm Families video that briefly summarizes AFT’s position alongside a local farmer’s perspective and our recent award from The Nature Conservancy as a recipient of their Climate Accelerator Grant Program.

 

 

CARBON FARMING OPPORTUNITIES IN ILLINOIS

This "Carbon Farming Opportunities in Illinois" factsheet serves to introduce farmers to financial opportunities available for implementing practices that reduce GHGs, summarizing minimum requirements and payments from traditional financial assistance programs side-by-side with market-based approaches. 

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About the Author
Emily Bruner, PhD

Midwest Science Director

ebruner@farmland.org

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