Getting Into Carbon Markets: Top 5 Companies

December 7, 2023

Sustainability and climate change are hot topics today. Along with the trend, the carbon credit marketplace is heating up but clear information on the key players and their relative benefits is sparse and convoluted. As many of you have likely learned – Google searches won’t get you very far here.

At FarmRaise, we’ve conducted research into carbon markets and tracked these players closely over the last several years. In this blog post, we share what we’ve observed and shed light on the five most-watched carbon credit companies. We’ll cover:

  • What carbon markets are and how carbon credits work
  • How to sequester carbon
  • 5 carbon markets to watch
  • If carbon markets are a good option for your operation

Are you a fund, agribusiness, or carbon credit company? If yes, we want to partner with you to get your funding opportunities in front of regenerative farmers!

How Carbon Credit Markets Work

First off, what even is carbon trading? In a few words, when a person - or more likely a business - wants to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHG emissions), they can buy carbon credits that equal the amount of carbon they’ve emitted into the environment. If the buyer of carbon credits buys too many credits, meaning they bought more carbon offsets than they’ve emitted into the environment, then they can sell them to someone else. That’s why it’s called a “carbon market” - it’s a place to buy and sell carbon credits.

Nowadays, U.S. farmers can get in on the trend of people, governments and industries trying to reduce their carbon footprints. By implementing regenerative agriculture practices, growers can practice carbon sequestration through carbon farming - trapping carbon dioxide in the soil.

One of the motivations behind the advent of carbon markets is to privatize climate action.

How Farmers and Ranchers Sequester Carbon

Sequestering carbon is the only way to address the excess carbon dioxide in our atmosphere that will continue to trapping heat in our atmosphere. There are many ways to capture and remove atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Carbon sequestration in agriculture is the removal of carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere and storing it in plants and soil. Carbon sequestration can also refer to trapping carbon dioxide in the ocean (have you heard of algae and seaweed farming?). Carbon sequestration improves both soil health and water quality. Here are five examples methods of sequestration:

  • Cover cropping - One of the most popular carbon sequestration practices, cover cropping reduces soil erosion while also capturing nutrients and carbon in the soil.
  • Sowing companion crops - By planting crops thats grow well together, you encourage biodiversity and soil health. So if you’re growing soybeans, planting rye can help protect the soybeans from pests and encourage healthy growth and carbon sequestration. As it turns out, rye can be considered a cover crop as well.
  • Reduced tillage - By tilling the land, you release trapped carbon back into the atmosphere. Low and no-till farming can help keep carbon trapped in the soil.
  • Rotational grazing - Cattle are often seen as public enemy No. 1 for climate change. But it’s not the cow that’s the problem. It’s how we raise them. By instituting rotational grazing, you can actually regenerate soil quicker and trap more carbon.
  • Crop rotation - By planting different crops over time on the same land, you can increase the level of organic matter in your soil, improving carbon sequestration. Not to mention it disrupts the lifecycle of pests!

You may be eligible for USDA funding to plant cover crops, sow certain companion crops and practice low or no-till farming on your land through EQIP. You can read more about EQIP and begin applying through the FarmRaise dashboard.

You’ll increase your chance for funding opportunities like EQIP by tracking your farm expenses and inventory. Check out FarmRaise Tracks to get started.

Which Crops Are Good for Carbon Credits?

If you’re looking to sell carbon credits, it stands to reason that you may want to cultivate  crops that capture the most carbon. From a botanical standpoint, those crops may include:

  • Tree crops like walnuts, olives and chestnuts
  • Perennials like Kernza, rhubarb and many types of berry
  • Cover crops like rye, barley and crimson clover.

If you’re interested in capturing carbon for the sake of these planet, these plants may serve you very well. However, these crops many not meet the standards of the carbon market you work with. Some companies will allow you to enroll in carbon credit program while also paying you a premium for your crops if you use specific conservation practices. You’ll need learn to carbon capturing methods and standards of the company you enter into contract with. Let’s take a look at who some of the companies could be.

Top 5 Carbon Markets for Producers to Consider

1. Indigo Carbon

As the most recognized name in the farming community, Indigo Ag has an impressive list of well-known corporate buyers like The North Face, Blue Bottle Coffee, and JP Morgan Chase. While Indigo is touted as a leader in the emerging industry, it may not be the best option for all.


  • Farmers  can expect between $30 and $40 per credit and take home at least 75 percent of the credit sale price. The 2022 carbon credit price for farmers working with Indigo was $30 per credit. You can get an estimate of your potential earnings on their website.
  • Indigo carbon has a proprietary software platform that allows farmers to easily input data from enrolled fields
  • After enrolling, farmers have access to Indigo’s agronomists and support teams to help implement changes and answer questions.


  • Farmers only get paid for adopting new practices (ie. cover cropping, no tillage, reduced nitrogen fertilizer, etc.), so if you’ve been cover cropping for years, you’re unlikely to be eligible. (Note: If you’ve been using a single crop cover crop and switch to a multi-crop cover crop you may be eligible.)
  • Farmers need to have detailed management practice information from the past 3-5 years. Note that you aren’t paid for those practices retroactively.
  • Although they’ve added nine states to their program, right now Indigo only services these specific states: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin

2. Nori

Nori is a blockchain-enabled startup company who is unique to the carbon-removal industry because they are powered by cryptocurrency. It’s a new approach that they hope will create efficient and transparent carbon removal transactions.

Companies can purchase NORI tokens (whose price depends on the market price of a carbon removal credit at time of purchase). Once it has a NORI token, the company can exchange it for an NRT (or Nori Removal Token).

Farmers create NRTs when they sequester one ton of carbon dioxide (CO2). That NRT translates into a NORI token which is priced at market value and can be sold whenever you feel is right.  The exchange rate between a NORI token and an NRT will always be 1:1.

Companies like this model because they can buy tons of carbon in NORI tokens and bank them, then eventually exchange the NORI tokens for NRTs which count towards carbon removal. Farmers like this model because they get the power to sell their banked carbon when it’s most beneficial to them. (Hello, invisible hand of the market.)


  • NORI’s pilot phase will award up to five years of grandfathered credits (2016-2020).
  • Farmers will be given a NORI token (which is essentially “real-money”) for every tonne they sequester and can cash in whenever they want. The NORI token is priced at the market value of a carbon credit, so the idea is that the longer you hold onto a NORI token, the more it will be worth in the long run, much like stocks.


  • NORI is still doing pilot programs right now so if you’re looking to sign up, you’ll have to join a waitlist.

3. TruCarbon by TruTerra

TruTerra is a subsidiary of Land O’Lakes – the world’s largest farmer owned cooperative. Its carbon program launched in 2021 , and they currently offer three main sustainability programs to enroll in. They all have different eligibility standards, but one common requirement is that you must have already instituted conservation practices before enrolling.


  • Truterra offers the Truterra Stewardship program which allows farmers to calculate their carbon removal and estimate their earnings in one place.
  • Farmers have access to resources like the Truterra Sustainability Tool and agronomic support from the Land O'Lakes network.
  • Based on our research knowledge, Truterra is the only company interested in paying farmers retroactively. This means that if you made a change in agronomic practices before joining the program, you may be eligible for payment from Truterra. We wouldn’t be surprised if Truterra expands to allow farmers to enroll for future payments, but right now they’re only focused on retroactive accounting.


  • Enrollment is contingent upon committing to a 20 year reporting period. Carbon reporting contracts are similar to conservation easements, meaning that they can be transferred in the case of transfer of property.
  • Truterra’s payout range seems to be a bit lower than its competitors, offering $15 to $30 per ton of new carbon sequestered in 2022.

4. Bayer Carbon Initiative

Bayer’s Carbon Initiative is one of the newest ones on this list, but their program is one of the easiest to understand and most transparent we’ve seen so far.


  • Bayer is a hugely influential food and agriculture company in its own right, so they have the resources and expertise to offer strong support to farmers. They partner with the some big names in ag to expand their benefits for participants.
  • They offer free soil sampling and you won’t have to repay anything if you decide to leave the program.
  • Participants receive access to Climate FieldView™ Plus, a powerful digital ag platform that will allow producers to check their progress
  • The program offers more agency than other programs in terms of which practices to use on which plots of land.
  • The Bayer Carbon Program, called ForGround, offers a larger incentive for farmers this year than they did for last year.


  • Their program is still young so expect some kinks to be worked out.
  • Although the program is surprisingly transparent about how they operate and thier average payout, they don’t offer the highest rates for carbon sequestration.
  • Bayer is an agriculture retailer. Carefully read the fine print when enrolling in the program to make sure you’re not also signing up to use Bayer’s proprietary products, unless that’s what you want to do.

5. Nutrien Ag

Nutrien’s core businesses are creating seeds, fertilizers, herbicides and software to optimize farm performance. Since they announced their involvement in addressing carbon emissions November 2020, we were intrigued - and so were many others. Nutrien Ag started its two year pilot period in 2021 but has a decade long comittmentto scale the carbon program by 2023. So far, they exceeded their anticipated farmer participation. Below is what we’ve been able to gather so far.


  • Nutrien has a deep bench of agronomists on staff to provide guidance for newly enrolled farmers, so entering the market may have additional benefits for farmers looking for guidance on how best to sequester carbon.
  • They have some big partners like Pepsi, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Sygenta.
  • As a global retailer they have plenty of connections to influential companies who might be interested in purchasing carbon credits once the program is officially launched


  • Because Nutrien has its own proprietary products, enrollment in their carbon program could mean you’re signing up to use their products– if you’re interested in signing up, make sure to read the fine print.
  • Due to its inundation of interested producers, there isn’t an obvious way to enroll from the website. You’ll have to email Nutrien support  or subscribe to their program updates to get involved.

The landscape of the carbon market is constantly changing with new carbon programs cropping up each year. But one thing remains - How you treat your soil and track your practices are the key to success in a carbon market. Keep track of which cover crops you’re planting and your inputs so you’re in good shape before and after carbon program enrollment.

Other Carbon Credit Companies and Resources

We’ve done a deep dive into a few carbon credit companies, but there are many more that are focusing on GHG emission mitigation as well.

  • The Climate Action Reserve’s Carbon Market Directory is a registry for global carbon markets.
  • USDA resources for farming practices that focus on soil carbon and emissions reduction.
  • Cargill’s RegenConnect - Cargill recently launched its brand-new carbon market for the 2022 and 2023 growing season for farmers in the midwest.

Carbon markets are meant to boost your income, diversify your operation and help the environment. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) does that and more. When you weigh the pros and cons of carbon markets, consider a CSA as well.

Should I Sell Carbon Credits?

Who’s Eligible to Sell Carbon Credits

While these programs vary slightly in stage of development and market mechanisms, they generally seek farmers who:

  1. Have multi-year on-farm data for all the land they want to enroll in the carbon marketplace. Oftentimes, the data needed is so granular that farmers may not qualify to enroll until after they start taking more detailed measurements.
  2. Own the land they enroll. For farmers who lease the land, this is a key barrier to entry.
  3. Plan to farm the land they enroll for years into the future. Contracts with carbon brokers can extend for substantial periods of time (think: 5 to 20 years and sometimes longer)

But there are other considerations aside from eligibility to think on.

Are Carbon Credits Good For My Operation?


There are a number of good things that can come to your operation by selling carbon credits - and it's more than just additional revenue.

A major plus of selling carbon credits is that participation can unlock access to grants and financial incentives from the government and other funders. And to access those funding opportunities, you'll need to have your finances in order. So if your books weren't already pristine before applying for a carbon credit program, you'll definitely have them in order upon or after applying.

If recordkeeping isn't your operation's forte, don't sweat it. There are farm finance tools out there that can streamline your financial management. Even if you're not applying for a carbon credit or conservation program, tracking your expenses, revenue and inventory is key to a successful operation.


There are a number of concerns by the public, climate experts and producers about carbon credits. But ultimately capturing carbon is good for any operation.

For one, not every carbon credit is linked to sequestration, so the idea of carbon credits can be misleading to consumers who think that buying carbon credits is reducing GHGs. In reality, some carbon markets aren’t selling high-quality offsets so they may not expect you to adhere to regenerative agricultural practices so much as to their specific carbon capture guidelines.

Because carbon markets are privatized and market-based, they can be subject to loopholes, lax regulations, and insufficient carbon pricing. All of that can spell lower prices for carbon farmers or insignificant emission cuts.

What’s more, companies with financial resources may be able to afford tons of carbon credits allowances as a means to offset their practices. In the end, the environmental and financial costs of corporate actions may be passed on to the public, potentially leading to higher energy prices, pollution and other environmental setbacks.

Regardless of it place in the market, carbon sequestration is still imperative to reducing the impacts of climate change, and we encourage every producer to do all that they can to trap carbon by adopting regenerative agriculture. It’s not just good for the planet, it’s good for the long term health of your operation.

If you think carbon markets are right for your farm, you may find that both private, state and federal funding options can help you try carbon sequestering tactics on your farm.

At FarmRaise, we are monitoring the development of these marketplaces closely so that our customers receive the most up-to-date information on their development. If you want updates about carbon sequestration, ag finance and Earth-friendly farming sign up for our free newsletter by joining FarmRaise.

This article is originally written by Sarah T. who has earned her Master’s Degree in Agronomy and Agriculture Technology from Stanford University. She supports American producers by dedicating herself to finding solutions that lead to more sustainable, healthier and tastier food systems.

*Truterra is a FarmRaise partner - partnering to help farmers in Iowa adopt regenerative farming practices.

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