IS SVX SOIL Carbon StoRAGE CERTIFIED TO AN INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED STANDARD?
No, the soil carbon storage certificates offered by SVX are certified to a new US voluntary standard. All soil carbon storage certificates offered by SVX are measurement-based, and validated by an independent third-party certification agency. The procedures used for all SVX soil carbon measurements follow the scientifically robust, internationally accepted methods described in Verra’s Soil Carbon Quantification Methodology (VM0021).
Although we are using Verra’s methodology for soil measurements, the resulting soil carbon storage certificates will not be endorsed by Verra. Instead, SVX carbon storage will be certified to a separate voluntary carbon standard that is currently in development at the Baker Institute of Public Policy at Rice University.
The Baker Institute work is a multi-stakeholder collaboration by over 70 different NGOs, corporations, land managers, academics and potential soil carbon storage buyers and sellers. Its work is open source and will be freely shared. We expect this work to lead to the development of an independent, widely credible certifying body for US carbon storage certificates. For the time being we refer to this as “The Baker Institute Soil Carbon Storage Standard". All SVX carbon storage certificates will comply with the Baker Institute Soil Carbon Storage Standard requirements and bear its mark. Find more information on the Baker Standard here.
Where is the land you are working with located?
We are proud to work with ranchers, farmers, and land owners on grazing lands in multiple states throughout the USA. Our office is located in Texas, but our ranches and farms can be located in any US state.
Are there significant differences in the carbon storage ability of land in arid vs. wet regions?
Nature's process to store carbon in soil is driven by photosynthesis. Water reacts with carbon dioxide under influence of sunlight to create sugars, which fuel plant growth. Part of these sugars are delivered to the soil microbial community through the root structure of plants. The availability of water is essential to this process. All else being equal, areas with more rainfall typically have more soil carbon storage potential than arid regions. But there are many other factors that influence soil carbon storage, including the length of the growing season (sunlight), soil type, microclimate and importantly - the land management methods applied.
In drier years there will be less photosynthesis, less growth and less soil carbon storage. However, the carbon that has already been stored in the soil is relatively resilient against droughts.
IS THERE A MAXIMUM SOIL CAPACITY FOR CARBON STORAGE?
Based on research done by Dr. Richard Teague and Steve Apfelbaum, it is assumed that grazing lands can store carbon on a continuous basis for at least 50-80 years before the rate of additional storage begins to level off. The numbers depend on the state of land degradation. Most grasslands in the US have lost more than half of their soil carbon. Much more can be added through land management practices that restore soil health. Recent work shows that when biodiversity thrives, nature continues to store and use carbon.
HOW PERMANENT IS SOIL CARBON STORAGE?
Soil carbon is one of the most durable forms of stored carbon and will stay in the ground for millennia, if the soil is not disturbed by activities like plowing or tilling. Carbon stored in soil is longer lasting than other forms of nature-based carbon storage like forests, which can quickly release carbon back into the air during fires or pest infestations.
Because carbon in soil is an asset that makes land more productive, we think the largest opportunity to make soil carbon permanently durable in a way that persists throughout generations, and despite changing policies, is to support ranchers in adopting these practices in ways that help their agricultural business thrive. Our ranchers and farmers annually renew their commitment not to engage in practices that result in significant subsurface soil disturbance (such as tilling or plowing), or that otherwise significantly damage soil health, for the next ten years. This creates a rolling ten-year conservation agreement that, together with the enhanced profitability that comes from healthier soil, reduces risk of reversals.
Soil Value Exchange is actively working with the Baker Institute of Public Policy's US Domestic Soil Carbon storage principles working group to develop clear rules related to durability and permanence.
Farmers & Ranchers
How Much can I get paid for storing carbon?
The price you will be paid per metric ton of carbon dioxide stored is stated in the contract you sign with SVX. The price is determined annually based on the number of carbon buyers and market conditions. SVX withholds a fee of 20-30% from the carbon price, which we use to pay for soil carbon measurements, find soil carbon storage buyers and run our organization. For 2020 the contract carbon price is expected to be in the range of $15-$25 per metric ton of CO2.
You can maximize your carbon revenue by managing your land for optimal soil health. SVX will support you in several ways to do this, including providing you with access to resources and training through our collaborators.
What happens if my land changes ownership?
If you sell your land during the term of your SVX agreement, the agreement can either be assigned to the new owner with their consent, or terminated.
Is there a Minimum acreage to participate?
There is no minimum acreage. During 2020-2021 as we launch our initial transactions, we prefer working with land managers with ranches >1000 acres. However, if your property is less than 1000 acres and you believe your land is storing a lot of carbon, please contact us.
WHAT IF I CHANGE MY LAND MANAGEMENT PRACTICES?
When you sell your soil carbon storage service through SVX, you remain in control of decisions regarding your land. We do not require any specific land management practices. Once you begin receiving annual carbon payments, you must not engage in practices that result in significant subsurface soil disturbance (such as tilling or plowing) or that otherwise significantly damage soil health. Each year that you receive a payment renews your commitment not to disturb the subsurface soil carbon for the next ten years.
What does the published peer reviewed literature say about the potential to capture and store carbon in soils with AMP grazing?
We recommend the following peer-reviewed papers as a starting point for insights into the carbon storage potential of grazing lands.
Rowntree, J. E., R. Ryals, M. DeLonge, W. R. Teague, M. Chiavegato, P. Byck, T. Wang, and S. Xu. 2016. Potential mitigation of Midwest grass-finished beef production emissions with soil carbon sequestration. Future of Food: Journal on Food, Agriculture, and Society 4:31-38.
Teague, R., F. Provenza, U. Kreuter, T. Steffens, and M. Barnes (2013), Multi-paddock grazing on rangelands: Why the perceptual dichotomy between research results and rancher experience?. Journal of Environmental Management, 128, 699–717.
Teague, W., S. Dowhower, S. Baker, N. Haile, P. Delaune, and D. Conover (2011), Grazing management impacts on vegetation, soil biota and soil chemical, physical and hydrological properties in tall grass prairie, Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 141(3-4), 310–322.
Hillenbrand, M., Thompson, R., Wang, F., Apfelbaum, S., Teague, R. 2019. Impacts of holistic planned grazing with bison compared to continuous grazing with cattle in South Dakota shortgrass prairie. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. 279, 156-322.
Wang, T., Teague, R., Park, S., Bevers, S. 2018. Evaluating long-term economic and ecological consequences of continuous and multi-paddock grazing – a modeling approach. Agricultural Systems 165, 197-207.
Soil Carbon storage rates are site specific and depend on a wide variety of variables including climate, soil types, and land management practices. For planning purposes, rates of carbon storage at participating SVX ranches could vary in the range between 0.5 to over 4.0 tCO2/acre/year**. This range is conservatively low compared to published research at Texas ranches of 3 tC/ha/yr (which translates to 4.5 tCO2/acre/yr). The peer-reviewed literature about soil carbon storage in grasslands and the impacts of grazing faces several challenges, including the difficulties of replicating actual landscape scale results with experiments designed around a series of controlled test plots using prescribed management techniques and short time horizons. Before delving in, we recommend reading "Multi-paddock grazing on rangelands: Why the perceptual dichotomy between research results and rancher experience?" by Teague et al. (2013).
** tCO2/acre/yr = metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent per acre per year
Who is involved in the baker institute effort to develop a new us soil carbon standard?
The Baker Institute of Public Policy at Rice University has convened a working group to develop a novel set of rules to govern voluntary soil carbon storage transactions in the US. We call this set of governance rules "The Baker Institute Soil Carbon Storage Standard." It is anticipated that the new voluntary soil carbon standard will be published to obtain comments from the public late in 2020. There are over 75 participants in the stakeholder group, including major landowners and ranchers, corporate executives, agricultural industry leaders, environmental advocacy groups, state agencies, philanthropic foundations and scientists across several key disciplines.