Certification & Verification

ISO-certification
The AgreenaCarbon program is ISO 14064-2 standard certified by DNV.

The ISO 14064-2 standard is part of the ISO 14000 family of International Standards for environmental management, and is by far the most prominent and recognized standard for environmental management, used by several hundred thousand organizations worldwide.

The ISO 14064-2 provides a set of tools for AgreenaCarbon to quantify, monitor, report and verify activities that reduces and or removes greenhouse gas emissions.

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DNV Verification
DNV is the certification body and verification body for AgreenaCarbon. Our program as well as our carbon certificates are verified by DNV.

DNV is an independent expert in assurance and risk management. Driven by their purpose, to safeguard life, property and the environment, they empower customers and their stakeholders with facts and reliable insights so that critical decisions can be made with confidence. As a trusted voice for many of the world’s most successful organizations, DNV use their knowledge to advance safety and performance, set industry benchmarks, and inspire and invent solutions to tackle global transformations.

They are one of the world’s leading classification societies and a recognized advisor, helping businesses assure the performance of their organizations, products, people, facilities and supply chains.

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Cool Farm Tool
We have partnered with Cool Farm Alliance and utilizes their Cool Farm Tool developed by the University of Aberdeen. Cool Farm Alliance brings together farmers, NGOs, multinational food suppliers and retailers to promote agricultural practices that mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

Cool Farm Tool (CFT) is an online greenhouse gas, water, and biodiversity calculator for farmers, and it is the industry standard tool for specific greenhouse gas calculations.

We have built the AgreenaCarbon calculator upon the CFT tool, which enables us to quantify on-farm greenhouse gas and soil carbon sequestration from the fields in our carbon-program, based on a variety of different information relating to former practices, field information etc.

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Hummingbird
Hummingbird Technologies is a satellite imagery company that applies AI and machine learning to provide outputs relating to NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetations Index) and identifying field boundaries.

Through satellite imagery Hummingbird makes crop specific analyses and applications maps, which we use for monitoring of field boundaries, vegetation cover (cover crops and cash crops) and tillage/non-tillage practice.

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GHG Accounting

Whenever the climate crisis is discussed it is common for the concept of Global Warming to get interwoven into the conversation. There is good reason for this though, as human activity has been increasing the concentration of a set of gases referred to as Greenhouse Gases. These key gases such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Nitrous Oxide (N2O), and Methane (CH4) to name a few. These gases all adsorb and store energy entering the atmosphere or energy being radiated back out, creating a Greenhouse effect, leading to an increase in global temperatures. Each of these gases have a different a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 1, 39 and 298 times when compared to CO2. Through understanding these differences, a common international measurement unit of CO2eq has been created.

AgreenaCarbon is based on a comprehensive methodology that promotes sustainable practices which aim at improving plant and soil organic matter content, increase GHG sequestration and achieve permanence of GHG storage.

The methodology is built into our proprietary service platform that captures our farmers’ activities at field level, year on year allowing us quantify the yearly GHG reductions and removals.

Carbon capture
Carbon capture and storage starts with plants, sunshine, and a bit of rain. Through the mechanism of photosynthesis, plants use the energy from the sun to capture atmospheric carbon in the form of CO2. The carbon is utilized by the plant to make sugars for growth and  O2 as a waste product.

Carbon Storage
The two main pools of biomass stored carbon that are important, are the above-ground biomass (seeds, shoots, straw, and leaves) and below-ground biomass (roots). Aboveground biomass is providing carbon to the soil once it begins to degrade. This can happen when it has been mulched and left on the field or following incorporation into the soil. Below-ground biomass carbon becomes stored when there are anaerobic conditions e.g, oxygen free environment and it is transformed into Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC).

Denitrification
Denitrification is a microbial reduction of nitrate and nitrite in which gaseous forms of nitrogen are formed e.g., nitrous oxide (N2O) or Nitrogen (N2). As mentioned above, it is essential to target Nitrogen sources due to its extreme warming potential. The release of Nitrous Oxide can be mitigated through the use of nitrogen inhibitors or through reduced aeration and disturbance of the soil.

The below listed parameters are parameters which the AgreenaCarbon program is following in order to quantify reductions and removals. All in all, these practices help grow healthier crops while sequestering and storing atmospheric carbon. They form more climate resilient food systems, and increase the biodiversity of the soil ecosystems, as well as it support the above ground diversity, such as bees and insects, reduces flood risks, and improve water quality.

Cover crops
The job of cover crops is primarily to improve the soil. They are planted after the cash crops are harvested, to keep a green cover all year around. The benefits of a full year green cover are improved soil aggregate stability, reduced erosion and nutrient runoff, improved water infiltration and holding capacity, reduced disease risk, weed and insect cycles, and increase in biodiversity. In case of a very wet field, cover crops will reduce soil moisture for the next cash crop.

Potential risks: Seed, fuel, and planting costs may not offset economic benefits of cover crops in short term, but long-term improvements are seen. Cover crops immobilize nitrogen, which means that the nitrogen is unavailable for the subsequent crop. Furthermore, climate and management practices will affect the benefits of cover crops, and certain cover crop types can be difficult to terminate, which creates the risk of them becoming a weed.

Minimum disturbance
Reduced soil disturbance and no-tillage practices leads to less soil erosion due to reduced soil disturbances, less soil compaction due to lower machinery use – and thereby also lower fuel costs, lower labour costs due to less field pass overs, less moisture loss and all in all – healthier soils.

Potential risks: There are initial cost of no tillage equipment, there might be a steep learning curve for new techniques, a potential increase in chemical use if it isn’t done right, and gullies can form.

Use of organic fertilization
A key component of more climate- and environmentally friendly practices is the use of organic fertilizer, as it contributes greatly to improving soil organic matter and soli activity, as organic fertilizers have many sources, such as vegetables, animals, and residue materials. It is cheaper than synthetic fertilizer and contains additional micro-nutrients beyond the synthetic. It reduces leaching potential and supply-chain emissions, and it potentially provides N supplies for future crops.

Potential risks: The nutrient content of organic fertilizers vary and they are generally applied when there is no crop on the field. Organic fertilizer requires more machinery, it requires biological processes to become plant accessible, and lastly, supplies are limited.

Healthy residue management
Crop residue management systems include conservation tillage practices such as no-till, which provide sufficient residue cover to protect the soil surface from the erosive effects of wind and water. It promotes soil biodiversity as well as above ground biodiversity, it reduces soil emissions depending on residue, C:N ratio (NOx and ammonia) and prevent nutrient leaching (N, P). In warmer climates it also serves as water retention.

Potential risks: Can increase N emissions with high N-containing residues, increase fisk of fungal diseases in wet climates, economic losses if residues were previously sold.

Active crop rotation
Having a yearly yield with a well-planned crop rotation is an effective way to improve the outcome of the fields. Crop rotation is the practice of planting different crops sequentially on the same plot of land to combat pest and weed pressure, as well as improve soil health and optimize nutrients in the soil. The combination of these factors results in improved soil organic matter, restoration of soil fertility and structure, as well as erosion and flood control.

Potential risks: Nutrient availability for the subsequent crop (leguminous cover crop), reduced yields due to expertise shortfalls, and new equipment costs.

Decreased fuel usage
Practicing reduced soil disturbance significantly reduces fuel consumption and therefore reduces supply chain emissions and costs. It also encourages more efficient vehicles in order to reduce time between farm activities.

Potential risks: May require new machinery, thus increasing investments. On/off engine cycling can damage equipment. Lastly, decreased fuel usage is hard to achieve without changes in other practices.


Program Methodology

Minimum requirements
GHG storage in the soil is not by default final and eternal – the storage can be reversed. This occurs when different forms of carbon are exposed to drier, warmer and more oxygen available environments which happens following soil disturbance. Thus, we have a few minimum requirements built into our methodology, to avoid reversals and ensure permanence of GHG storage.

Throughout the full duration of the contract, the Agreena farmers will adhere to the following minimum requirements to earn their certificates year on year.

1) No conventional soil disturbance practices – ie. no plowing
Intensive soil disturbance such as plowing is creating reversals and thus releasing large amounts of captured CO2eq into the atmosphere. Moreover, keeping cultivation to minimum soil disturbance practices will in long term enhance biodiversity and the natural biological processes of the soil, as well as improve the soil fertility. Soil organic matter will increase, and thus the carbon sequestration potential in the soil will increase as well.

2) No burning of residues
Successive fires on fields releases a significant amount of carbon and nitrogen into the atmosphere. Moreover the fires destroy the organic matter that makes soil fertile, causing crop yields to decrease over time and increasing the need for fertilizers.

Lastly, the program is designed for active cropland, and it is therefore a requirement that the farmer has a yearly yield on the participating fields. Peatlands, forestry etc. is at the moment not possible to sign up to the program. A yearly yield with a well planned crop rotation is an efficient way to combat pest and weed pressure, improve soil health and optimize nutrients in the soil. This results in improved soil organic matter, which again increases the carbon levels in the soil.

Additionality is defined as actions that occur as a result of the programme that would not have happened in the absence of the programme.


We ensure additionality by removing the barriers for consistent adoption of regenerative practices across the global agricultural eco-system, to reduce carbon emissions, and foster relative enhancements of soil carbon stocks

The programme addresses the key barriers of adoption of conservation agriculture (CA) through providing financial and educational incentives.

Financial barriers
When adopting new practices there are two main financial barriers:

  1. Initial investment in new machinery
  2. Risk of yield outage in the short term

Financial barriers are reduced through the issuance of carbon certificates which are a purchasable commodity aimed at co-financing the initial investment of machinery as well as cover missing earnings due to potential lowered yields – all this to achieve a consistent commitment to adopted CA practices.

Educational barrier
Conservation farming is a completely new way of cultivating fields and requires both initial new knowledge as well as continuous guidance and advice.

We have connected an online learning system to our technical platform to assists farmers in achieving the best outcomes throughout their transition. Also, the service platform offers direct connection between specialist agronomists and the Agreena farmers to ensure continuous advice on best management practices for the specific fields and local areas.

Note: We have taken inspiration from the Verra: AFOLU Non-Permanence Risk Tool, and Verra: VSC Program Guide v4.0. and have chosen to slightly adjust the specific approach as there are certain risk factors that are not applicable, as well as the Programme not considering agroforestry factors which these tools are primarily designed for.


All Agreena farmers are required to contribute a percentage of their climate benefit to the AgreenaCarbon Non-Permanence Buffer, which remains unsold and guarantees the integrity of our certificates in the face of risks to permanence, overestimation or potential reversals of emission removals. The Buffer does not include risks associated to GHG reductions, but solely CO2eq removals that risk being released back into the atmosphere.

The Buffer consists of verified carbon certificates set aside to cover both the structural quantification risks as well as non-permanence risks. The Buffer is held in the AgreenaCarbon Registry with the purpose of replenishment in a case of reversal (eg. due to intensive soil disturbance) during the project contracting term.

Moreover, as with all modelling, there is a level of uncertainty that needs to be accounted for. Therefore, the buffer mechanism is also used to mitigate against uncertainties and natural disaster risks such as fires and flooding.

Buffer allocation
AgreenaCarbon considers a range of risks and uncertainties associated with the estimations, reversals, and permanence of GHG removals. The determination of the certificate share that will be allocated in the buffer is the same for all projects and depends on contract type. It is calculated based on the following identified risks:

  1. Non-permanence risks during the Crediting Term
    Our Programme assumes a risk of non-permanence during the crediting term, associated to reversal of management practices and non-compliance to the AgreenaCarbon terms and policies.
  2. Non-permanence risks in the Maintenance Period
    Our Programme assumes that the level of commitment is different between contract types and therefore the risks associated to non-permanence after the Crediting Term are adjusted for each contract type.
  3. Non-permanence risks due to natural/other drivers (e.g., flood or fire).
    Despite the risk is low, AgreenaCarbon still accounts a share of the buffer to natural causes. Furthermore, the assigned share to these events is including the increased risks of damages due to factors affected by climate change (e.g, risk of fire or flood). Our Programme has therefore assigned a fixed buffer of 3% to account for such risks.
  4. Quantification risks due to uncertainties (e.g., modelling, measurements, additionality).
    To address uncertainties related to the modelling of GHG emission, along with other aspects that can jeopardize additionality, AgreenaCarbon has allocated 15% on buffer to account for uncertainty risks.

Note: We have taken inspiration from the Verra: AFOLU Non-Permanence Risk Tool, and Verra: VSC Program Guide v4.0. and have chosen to slightly adjust the specific approach as there are certain risk factors that are not applicable, as well as the Programme not considering agro-forestry factors which these tools are primarily designed for.


All AgreenaCarbon certificates are issued, transacted and retired on the AgreenaCarbon Registry where certificates are allocated unique serial numbers to ensure there is no double-counting or double-selling.

Our programme registry is an internal database for certificates with an online account management platform. The aim of the registry is to ensure complete traceability and validity for all carbon certificates over time.

The registry is responsible for the recording and visualisation of registered projects, validated certificates and ensuring that all is processed in accordance with the AgreenaCarbon rules; providing services of holding, transferring, retiring, and cancelling certificates; managing buffer certificates; and maintaining custodial services and records of legal ownership of certificates.

The Registry will be accessible via an online platform where the certificate account balances are viewable with respect to the account holders e.g., farmer and buyer.

 

Certificate lifecycle

  • Transferable: certificates available for sale / claim by farmers or 3rd party buyers
  • Retired: Occurs when certificate has been sold.
  • Cancelled: Replenished and cancelled certificates due to reversals or premature termination from farmers.

Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV)-process

The MRV process is essential for guaranteeing the validity of the processes and outcomes of the programme.

The process is broken into three key steps:

  1. Quality assurance – Performed by Agreena’s Customer Success department in which the intent of the programme is confirmed with the project proponent, to ensure understanding of input data and next steps.
  2. Quality control – The process of running our field level, reported real-world data through initial modelling and data pattern analysis paired with satellite imagery data to confirm both the practice adoption as well as the emission reductions and removals. This is followed by a desk review, to ensure accuracy of reported and modeled data. Moreover, random site inspections will be performed.
  3. 3rd party verification – Handled by a trusted & industry leading verification body that verifies both the AgreenaCarbon methodology, QA & QC processes as well as the final quantified reductions in order to verify the issued certificates.


Program Policy

AgreenaCarbon certificates are a purchasable commodity that represents one tonne of CO2e removals and reductions, for the use of insetting or offsetting emissions.

When a company wishes to buy certificates from the AgreenaCarbon programme in order to use for offsetting, the company must have a pathway towards reduction or elimination of their own scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions (see link below). AgreenaCarbon certificates are not a quick fix or a license to continue practices that damage the climate.

In order to ensure that buying companies have a sustainability strategy, Agreena has an ESG screening process of the potential buyers of certificates.

It must also be emphasized that the buyer’s resale of purchased Certificates is strictly forbidden. The seller and/or Agreena ApS have the right to cancel all certificates sold due to breach, if the buyer attempts to, causes or completes such resale of Certificates.

Scope 1, 2 and 3

The aim of AgreenaCarbon is to have a net-net positive effect on the climate and assist in the transition towards sustainable agriculture. When undergoing the sale of certificates either via AgreenaCarbon or an external broker, the programme has outlined a buyer condition that requires said buyer to have an implemented an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) policy which seeks to reduce and eliminate their scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. In the screening process, the programme will either independently assess publicly available ESG policy’s or request a copy from the buyer.

Once buyers meet our requirements for certificate purchases, AgreenaCarbon will provide guarantee that all purchases certificates will remain permanent indefinitely through the use of our programme buffer framework.

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A farmer either joins the program for 5 or 10 years. Or they can try out our vesting model, where they have the flexibility of being part of our programme for a year at a time. In the vesting model, the farmer will receive pay-outs over a five-year period, and will only get payouts in the years where they are part of our programme.

AgreenaCarbon verifies the farmer’s reduced emissions from a farmers field activities and creates verified, tradable CO2eq-certificates. The farmer is the owner of the certificates and decides what he or she wants to do with them. They can either sell them, keep them or have Agreena sell the certificates for them.

Farmers can only sell their certificate once – issued certificates will be retired upon selling and cannot be sold multiple times.

If a farmer wishes to leave our programme early, there are two ways of doings so:

Good leaver
If a farmer leaves and still subscribe to our monitoring service, they are considered a “good leaver”, and there will be no repayments or retained payments. They will be asked to pay a monitoring and verification fee, to cover our cost for satellite & data verification. They will still need to adhere to the minimum requirements through the full contract period.

Bad leaver
If a farmer leaves and do not subscribe to our monitoring service, they are considered a “bad leaver”. On a fixed model they will be asked to repay up to 3 years of executed payments. On a vesting model we retain all future payments.

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Perspectives on Climate Certificates

In light of the recent reports published by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it has become apparent that the agricultural industry accounts for about 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions. One solution could be to reduce or stop production, however in the face of increasing population growth this simply is not an option.

However, the problem can also be a solution. In the past few decades there has been an ever increasing focus on sustainable agriculture practices that have been scientifically proven to improve soil health and carbon storage.

The idea of AgreenCarbon has grown from the intention of helping farmers combat the climate crisis through identifying the key barrier economic and educational barriers preventing the transition towards sustainable farming. Through buying certificates from our farmers, companies and organization are helping further accelerate the transition.

Agreena Farmers are part of a growing cohort within the Agricultural community focused on improving soil health, biodiversity and overall resilience to pests and climate changes. The farmer’s intentions for joining AgreenaCarbon are often rooted in their faith in the new system and the co-benefits that the practices provide for their farming operations.

We believe that trust and transparency is at the core of every sustainable solution, which is why we are transparent with our methodology and quantification. For potential buyers this means, that they can validity of our certificates, and if they wish to double-check for themselves, they are able to do so.

The certificate market up to this point has mainly focused on renewable energy and forestry projects where certificates have been generated through leading standards such as VCS and Gold Standard. It is globally recognized that we need to take decisive action within this decade to ensure we meet the international 1.5 degree targets. Therefore it is essential that new carbon reduction and removal projects are developed and implemented at scale.

The concept of agricultural carbon certificates is relatively new, although the potential for the impact is large. When creating AgreenaCarbon, we have sought inspiration from these other leading standards and have developed them further by building our own proprietary, scientific, scalable, and fit-for-purpose methodology, which accurately reflects the GHG protocols, accounting and quantification principles.

Soil projects vs. Other carbon projects

The most well known and well used form of carbon offsetting is tree planting. Tree planting is an important part of our ongoing solution to climate change but will not achieve the required results on its own. Trees take over 20 years to have the desired effect and by the current UN estimates we do not have 20 years to wait. Soil on the other hand offers a much more immediate carbon removal and reduction process, which we can achieve in just one year’s crop cycle. Whilst also growing nutritious food, supporting local biodiversity and family farms.

AgreenaCarbon vs. Other soil carbon programs

Soil carbon programs must be simple and scalable enough for farmers to understand and use in their day to day activities. Farmers are looking for simple and practical decision making tools to understand their carbon position and the effect of the actions they take. At Agreena we believe that current soil carbon programs are too complex, costly and unsustainable for farmers to use on a daily basis. That is why we have built our methodology, online calculation system and learning platform to put the best tool and knowledge in the farmers hands. This enables the farmers to make business decisions, not only based on the yield of the crop, but now for the first time also based on the impact that their practices have on the climate.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

IPCC is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments concerning climate change, its implications and potential future risks, and to put forward adaptation and mitigation strategies. It has 195 member states.

AgreenaCarbon utilises guidance issued by the IPCC Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (TFI) which is responsible for developing and refining internationally agreed methodologies and software for the calculation and reporting of national greenhouse gas emissions and removals. The CFT software in use by AgreenaCarbon utilises Global Warming Potential (GWP) of different GHGs indicated by the IPCC Assessment Report 4, and updates accordingly.

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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The SDGs are 17 goals for a sustainable global development proposed by the UN. Below is listed the four goals that Agreena is focussing on, as well as a description on how AgreenaCarbon is aiming to meet those goals.

Goal 13: Climate Action.

Through the introduction of AgreenaCarbon there has been a mobilization of agricultural practitioners through improved education and awareness raising about practices that will help mitigate climate change and improve adaptation to a changing climate (target 13.3).

Goal 15: Life on Land

AgreenaCarbon target’s goal 15, target 15.3 through the practice management framework outlined for farmers when joining the programme. The suite of practices adopted by AgreenaCarbon are aimed at stopping degradation and improving soil carbon stock and health. Financial incentives in the form of Carbon Certificates addresses target 15a which aims to ensure sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems.

Goal 2: Zero Hunger

Through promoting sustainable agricultural practices AgreenaCarbon directly addresses SDG goal 2. The key targets that the program addresses include 2.1 – ensuring nutritious and sufficient food all year round, 2.4 – improve the sustainability and resilience of agricultural systems in the face of increasing challenges related to climate change.

Goal 3: Human Health
AgreenaCarbon indirectly supports human health through improvement of plant nutrient content which has been noted to be in decline.

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