No-till, no sweat

South Dakota State Roundup

Published January 1, 2001  | January 2001 issue

Farmers who've adopted no-till farming techniques may soon find themselves saving the world, and making a killing in the process. The state is spending $250,000 this year to study "carbon sequestration," a process of trapping carbon in the ground rather than releasing it to the atmosphere, that some experts estimate could bring state farmers up to $150 million a year in additional revenues.

The idea is that companies required by federal legislation to curb their greenhouse gas emissions would pay farmers for emission credits to offset their manufacturing operations. No-till cultivation releases less carbon than plowing up soil, so farmers practicing no-till could sell credits for between $5 and $60 a ton, much as manufacturers now trade sulfur dioxide emission credits.

Douglas Clement