A buyer’s guide to soil carbon offsets

Voluntary carbon markets are ramping up efforts to credit soil carbon removal, with federal lawmakers and state regulators eager to follow suit. Most of the enthusiasm centers on agricultural practices like reducing tillage intensity, planting cover crops, and improving grazing management. These practices have the potential to simultaneously increase soil health, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and enhance carbon sinks — a seemingly win-win solution. Improving soil health and ecosystems is unequivocally positive. But determining when certain agricultural practices actually increase carbon stocks, and how to measure and credit their gains, remains exceedingly complex. A number of protocols for crediting soil carbon have emerged to tackle this complexity. To help address the opacity in today’s market, (carbon)plan systematically reviewed 14 soil carbon protocols on 33 technical dimensions. In this guide you’ll find the results of this research and concrete help for evaluating your soil carbon offsetting choices.