The Marin Carbon Project: Carbon Farming

carbon farming

What is Carbon Farming?

Carbon farming is a system of agricultural management practices that all center on the goal of sequestering carbon in arable soils. Practices such as driving a tractor on agricultural land, tilling soils, and grazing all contribute to the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. By developing and implementing a Carbon Farm Plan, the Marin Project, which specializes in transitioning farms into this climate-friendly form of agriculture, seeks to increase the amount of carbon stored within crop soils. The use of windbreaks, riparian buffers, compost, and plant establishment all help to achieve maximum carbon sequestration without jeopardizing the farm's production. Benefits beside carbon sequestration include improved soil health, productivity, and forage. The Marin Carbon Project has completed three carbon farms and is working to implement twenty additional Carbon Plans over the next ten years. More information about their projects and what carbon farming is can be found on their website.

Marin Carbon Project Website

Carbon Farm Plans

Carbon Farm Plans are the tool which the Marin Carbon Project utilizes to outline the goals and steps for added carbon sequestration across farmlands. Plans include the baseline conditions of the farm through soil mapping and site condition assessments. They also address the performance monitoring protocols that are required by carbon markets. The overarching goal of a Carbon Farm Plan is to create a plan where all applicable aspects of farm operations revolve around the long-term sequestration of carbon either as permanent vegetation or soil organic matter.

Planning Process

The following is a basic outline of the steps for creating and implementing a Carbon Farm Plan according to the Marin Project:

  1. Collect Data: A site inventory is created based on natural resource conditions on the farm.
  2. Brainstorm: Based on the data aquired in step one, opportunities for increasing carbon storage are explored. This phase does not take into consideration monetary or other resource limitations.
  3. Map It Out: A site map is drawn, identifying physical areas where carbon storage practices could occur.
  4. Explore Options:Taking into account the goals of the farm and funding capabilities, the list of options is modified based on practicality and the amount of carbon stored by each practice.
  5. Implement: Practices are prioritized based on step four and implemented when resources are available.
  6. Modifications: Evaluation and monitoring of the Carbon Farm Plan are performed and adaptations are made when necessary.


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Carbon credit projects use land management practices that boost the ability of natural CO2 sinks like plants and soils to remove carbon as CO2 from the atmosphere. Opportunities for indirect sequestration are found in forests, grasslands, wetlands and croplands.

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Carbon credit trading is a cost-effective solution toward mitigating environmental pollution that originated under the first Bush administration’s efforts to reduce acid rain.


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Carbon credits in North America are currently traded on voluntary offset markets and through regional GHG compliance programs. Prices for carbon credits are higher in compliance programs because there is greater demand for credits from regulated entities.