Transformative Investment in Climate-Smart Agriculture

Unlocking the Potential of our Soils to Help the U.S. Achieve a Net-Zero Economy

David Bennell, Seana Day, Christi ElectrisDavid LeZaks, Susan Paykin, Megan Shahan, Jaime Silverstein, Chris Taylor, Rob Trice

February 2021

Croatan Institute in collaboration with The Mixing Bowl, U.S. Farmers & Ranchers in Action (USFRA), and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) developed this report that analyzes the state of soil health technology and identifies opportunities to find new sources of capital to accelerate the adoption of climate-smart agriculture on farms and ranches across the U.S. The report examines farmer and rancher barriers to practice adoption, the current state of climate-smart soil technology, financial mechanisms available to farmers and ranchers as well the investment case for including agriculture in the broader portfolio of net zero economy investments.

Key Findings Include:

  • Farmers and ranchers need investment to realize the promise of carbon drawdown by scaling up climate-smart, soil-centric agriculture practices.
    • The report focuses on six established practices: 1) no-till/reduced tillage with retained residues, 2) cover crops, 3) crop rotation, 4) compost application 5) managed grazing, and 6) integrated crop and livestock systems. Each of these practices benefits soil health and supports water quality.
  • With $972 billion flowing annually into the value chain, innovative financial mechanisms – e.g., green bonds and community finance – are needed to realign capital.
  • Calls-to-action include:
    • Improve and more broadly adopt on-farm digital tools, data standards and connectivity
    • Make case for climate-smart agriculture in the broader portfolio of net zero economy investments
    • Connect capital with willing producer ecosystems 

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