Carbon certification values and monetizes farmer's reduced carbon emissions and/or increased carbon sequestration in their fields. Carbon certificates represent the carbon emissions which have been successfully reduced or removed from the atmosphere through sustainable farming practices, otherwise known as regenerative agriculture.
Each carbon certificate is worth one tonne of CO2 equivalent emissions reduced or removed. For us, however, certification go much beyond carbon.
We see certification first and foremost as a vector for positive change in the food & fibre system. It allows companies to support pioneering farmers on their sustainability journey - rewarding them for the ecosystem services they provide and enabling the green transition in agriculture.
Our carbon certification is:
Farmers can reduce their emissions and store carbon in their soil by implementing regenerative agriculture, which includes the following agronomic techniques:
It is worth noting that each farm context is unique, meaning that each regenerative agriculture journey will be different. Farmers entering our programme are offered in-house, tailored guidance on the best practices to adopt for an optimal transition based on their individual profile.
Learn more about our programme and how we help our farmers transition here.
By restoring soil health and mitigating the effects of climate change, farmers can earn carbon certificates through the Soil Capital Carbon programme. These are subsequently sold on the voluntary carbon market to food & fibre companies wishing to do insetting, or other climate-conscious companies wishing to contribute to regenerating the agriculture sector.
What sets apart an authentic carbon removal project is the quality of its Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV)2 methodology. MRV is what warrants the environmental impact of a specific mitigation activity (e.g. emission reductions through regenerative agriculture), so that it can be awarded a monetary value (e.g. carbon certificates). Carbon removal projects must also satisfy other criteria of quantification, additionality, permanence and sustainability.
Transparency is at the heart of what we do. Soil Capital’s MRV process is certified against an ISO (the International Organization for Standardisation) standard3 and audited each year by an independent third party. This is in line with the European Commission’s upcoming regulation on carbon removal certification.
Our team of agronomists and data science experts work with industry-leading MRV technologies and procedures to ensure that our certificates are of the highest possible quality. Here’s how:
Our certification programme brings together multiple monitoring techniques to provide the most robust quantification of our farmers’ GHG results. We combine modelling, using the Cool Farm Tool (CFT), together with direct soil analysis input collected from the fields. All of our monitoring tools have been developed in line with the latest IPCC recommendations4. In order to refine our quantification tool suite, we are also in the process of integrating an additional soil carbon model as well as remote sensing technology.
When farmers enter our programme, we gather information on their farms’ profile to make a carbon baseline analysis. In the following years, yearly carbon assessments are made to track changes in the farms’ carbon performance. As such, only farmers’ annual carbon reductions and/or sequestrations are paid for and traded on the voluntary carbon market, guaranteeing additionality. Pre-existing, stabilised carbon in farmers’ soil does not generate certificates.
We’ve designed a farm management software (mySoilCapital) and corresponding App through which our farmers can seamlessly provide us with their operational and management practice data. This information is collected on a yearly basis and combined with public data sources for scientific soundness (e.g. soil characteristic data).
Central to us is the in-depth quality control integrated into our reporting process. Each farmer case is processed by our expert agronomists, notably through a direct meeting, to check the coherence of the data provided. We can then offer our corporate partners details and agronomic insights on the farmers within their supply shed. It is worth noting here that we never share direct, identifiable data, only group datasets.
Our monitoring and reporting of farms’ GHG results is verified every year by an external independent auditor, TÜV Rheinland. TÜV Rheinland verifies the integrity, soundness and correct processing of our data systems in compliance with ISO standards. This auditing process also involves a yearly random sampling of farmers for a deep-dive on the integrity of their farm records, which is complemented by farmer interviews and on-site visits.
To ensure the traceability and uniqueness of our certificates, we also list them on the CSA public registry5.
We understand that companies operating across international borders face significant frictional costs when purchasing carbon removals certified nationally or regionally. This is why we have decided to adhere to standards from ISO, which enables us to work across multiple markets using our protocol.
Furthermore, our programme already delivers against the scope of SBTi FLAG (the Forestry, Land Use and Agriculture Guidance)6 and is committed to alignment with the GHG Protocol Land Sector and Removals Guidance7 once it is finalised - namely the two world frameworks governing corporate sustainability. This means that our certificates deliver reportable supply chain emissions removals which are accountable towards achieving SBTi FLAG targets.
By using third-party verification and listing our certificates on a public registry, our certification programme already satisfies the requirements of the EU’s proposed regulation on carbon removal certification8. Soil Capital is notably a member of the Expert Group on carbon removals9 (representing the Climate Agriculture Alliance10) and an active participant of the research project MRV4SOC11 which assist the European Commission’s regulatory work on voluntary certification. Our unique involvement in applied research and regulation keeps us at the forefront of technical improvements and ensures constant compliance with EU policy guidelines.
A first key point to keep in mind is that Soil Capital’s certificates are traded on the voluntary carbon markets12. As opposed to compliance markets, which apply to sectors of the economy subjected to regulation to reduce and control their GHG emissions (Ex: the EU Emissions Trading Scheme), voluntary markets are driven by companies setting climate targets on a voluntary basis.
Voluntary carbon markets (VCMs) support a wide variety of environmental projects, which either aim to reduce, avoid emitting, or remove GHGs from the atmosphere. As they are not mandated, VCMs sell carbon products at different rates depending on their issued environmental project.
To date, common practice in voluntary carbon markets has involved offsetting, i.e. the purchase of carbon credits generated by environmental projects happening outside a purchasing companies’ value chain and activities. Carbon offsetting allows a company to make compensation claims for its emissions, based on the principle that purchasing carbon credits from another supplier (even if generated far away) will logically ‘negate’ the emissions produced through its own operations.
On the other hand, Soil Capital focuses rather on insetting13, which relies on carbon improvements within the purchasing company’s supply chain. Carbon insetting allows a company to make scope 3 reduction claims, as it directly invests in its supply base (e.g. farmers) to reduce emissions that form part of its own scope 3 (e.g. farmers’ direct emissions).
The terms ‘carbon credits’ and ‘offsets’ are often used interchangeably. In order to avoid potential misunderstanding and conflating our offer with offsetting, we term our carbon products ‘certificates’ rather than ‘credits’.
For companies which are not related to farming, purchasing farmer carbon certificates will allow them to make contribution claims to climate action. This means that they can talk publicly about the climate impact they have financed or enabled, however without being able to use those numbers in their own carbon accounting.
As such, our ISO certificates enable both supply chain reduction claims and contribution claims, but not compensation claims.
There are three major reasons why we believe an insetting approach through carbon certificates is best:
Companies face increasing pressure to stop relying on offsetting for their sustainability strategies given great concerns over greenwashing. Instead, they are encouraged to prioritise the reduction of emissions within their own scope of activity before making further ‘contributions’ to climate action, without being able to claim that these contributions make the company ‘climate neutral’. Our high-quality certificates align with these societal and regulatory expectations, preventing attempts at greenwashing.
Many farmers are uncomfortable with the risk of giving unrelated companies a “right to pollute” through offsetting and prefer remuneration for carbon improvements being associated with their own crop sales and value chain partners. We believe that farmers’ contribution to climate action should be valued first and foremost by their own value chain partners and commodity market, providing a more effective economic signal towards a green transition.
We see greater opportunities for mutual value creation for farmers and food & fibre companies through an insetting approach. We believe that using carbon farming certificates as part of companies’ scope 3 emissions, thereby incentivising the production of low-carbon crops and end-products, is the best way to embed the transition within the food system. This reflects our stance on the key question: how would we like to motivate the overall system to transition to net zero?
Carbon Certificates are just one of our expertise. We support food & fibre companies committed to transitioning their supply chain through regenerative agriculture programs and carbon reduction & removal measurement. Learn more here.
Learn more about how your company can invest in the regenerative transition.
Join the farmers who improve soil health and get rewarded for it.
Learn more about how your company can invest in the regenerative transition.