US farmers are beginning to pay more attention to off-season cover crops as interest in low-carbon farming keeps increasing.
The main objective of cover crops is soil restoration, as well as the reduction of erosion. But what also matters is their potential to result in more CO2 being captured from the air as a result of photosynthesis.
The carbon dioxide that is absorbed from the atmosphere ends up trapped in the roots and other plant matter that remains in the soil and can later be measured.
Based on those measurements, carbon credits are created that businesses can purchase in order to offset their carbon emissions.
This practice proves highly demonstrative of how the farming industry is quickly adapting to the changes ensuing from the climate crisis.
And thanks to this practice, farmers can now benefit from an additional stream of income, as opposed to relying solely on selling their crops for livestock feed and food.
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Instead, they can now also be paid for the part that their crops play in mitigating climate change by reducing the amount of CO2 emissions.
Today, big giants like Bayer AG (BAYGn.DE) will pay farmers for planting what has become known as cover crops. Examples include grasses like oats and rye and range to radishes and legumes.
Many of these crops have shown to be more valuable to be left to break down in the soil after being killed off with weed killers than being converted to cattle feed or biofuels even.
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And a steadily growing number of farmers in the United States are starting to adopt this regenerative agriculture practice, which is seen by many environmentalists to be an improvement over conventional farming.
It has been estimated that cover crop plantings have grown to a hefty 22 million acres throughout 2021, which represents a 43% increase compared to 2017.