Navigating the carbon markets and the risk/rewards of signing a contract to sell carbon credits for on-farm conservation practices is top of mind for many Iowa farmers.

While some farmers are saying costs and other requirements currently outweigh the payment benefits offered (typically up to $30 per ton), others who have engaged in conservation practices such as cover crops or no-till have been able to secure as much as a $25-per-ton profit selling their carbon conservation efforts.

Tim Christensen, Iowa State University (ISU) farm management specialist, has attempted to make sense of it all through a series of programs sponsored by ISU Extension.

ISU offers a new decision-making tool that helps farmers calculate financial re­turns on carbon farming contracts. 

The carbon farming calculator, downloadable and free to use at, allows farmers across the Midwest to input data for various farm practices and calculate net returns on carbon credits generated. 

Christensen said it’s no surprise there’s some confusion, and trepidation, amongst Iowa farmers as the carbon credit marketplace ...