Nashville-based agricultural technology startup AgriCapture has only been around a couple of years, but it has already made the history of sorts. In May, a project the company is partnering on became the first in Texas to receive carbon credits for grasslands conservation.
The Climate Action Reserve (CAR), a carbon market offset registry, issued the credits for a project at the Bailey County Ranch involving three entities: AgriCapture, the property owner, and the Texas Agricultural Land Trust. According to a May 30 press release, the project is designed to protect soil carbon and ensure that the property’s native grasslands will not be converted.
The Bailey County Ranch is located in the High Plains of the Texas Panhandle, an area rich in native grassland habitats. Grasslands are essential to the environment for numerous reasons. They help build healthy soils by making it easier to increase soil and microbe populations, which also reduces water runoff and improves water quality, according to the Southeastern Grasslands Institute. In addition, native grasses support honeybees and other pollinators and provide a “critical habitat” for quail, turkey, waterfowl, and other wildlife species.
Another benefit of native grasslands is that they naturally sequester more than one-third of land-based carbon. That’s one reason AgriCapture launched the Avoided Grasslands Conversion Project.
The project aims to protect native grasslands and ranches from being converted into cropland, allowing land to naturally sequester carbon and prevent agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Photo Courtesy AgriCapture
To help “facilitate the generation” of carbon credits, AgriCapture collects data on soil types, vegetative cover, land use history, and ranch operations to submit for registry verification and credit issuance under CAR’s Grasslands Protocol. The AgriCapture team then quantifies GHG emissions that have been avoided and monitors ranch operations to protect underground carbon storage. Corporate supporters of the project will offset their own GHG emissions while preserving grasslands.
“We are proud to deliver the first avoided grasslands conversion carbon credits in the history of the state of Texas and thrilled that AgriCapture’s programs will unlock significant value for Texas landowners,” AgriCapture board member and Texas landowner Kam Kronenberg said in a statement.
Photo Courtesy AgriCapture
AgriCapture was launched in 2021 to help farmers and landowners identify and implement climate-friendly practices. It was founded by agriculture specialists, environmentalists, and economists to combat climate change through sustainable agriculture.
In June 2022, AgriCapture launched a Climate-Friendly Rice Program to foster eco-friendly rice farming practices, monitor and quantify emissions, and create sustainable supply chains. Three months later, the company received a $7.5 million grant from the USDA to scale its Climate-Friendly Rice Program to 25,000 acres.
The Texas Agricultural Land Trust’s (TALT) role in the Bailey County Ranch partnership is to hold the conservation easement that will protect the land from being converted or developed, according to AgriCapture. The easement contains provisions that make the property eligible for carbon credits for sequestering and storing soil carbon. It also has provisions to eliminate emissions associated with crop production.
“We believe this bellwether project could result in future carbon credit revenue streams for agricultural landowners in Texas and beyond,” TALT Chief Executive Chad Ellis said.