Accreditation, Certification & Verification

ISO-accreditation

The AgreenaCarbon programme is accredited to the ISO 14064-2:2019 standard which:

Is used by several hundred thousand organisations worldwide for GHG methodologies and is the same standard as used by Verra VCS and Gold Standard
Our compliance is audited and verified annually by our third party Validation & Verification Body (VVB), Det Norske Veritas (DNV)
Enables the procedure for the AgreenaCarbon to quantify, monitor, report activities that reduce and/ or remove greenhouse gas emissions.
Is part of the ISO 14000 family of International Standards for environmental management that exist as a means to help organisations minimise their negative environmental impact.

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DNV Auditing

DNV is the VVB currently used for the AgreenaCarbon programme. Our programme design, methodology and our carbon certificates are third-party validated and 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 organisations, 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 organisations, products, people, facilities and supply chains.

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Cool Farm Tool

Agreena is a member of the Cool Farm Alliance and our greenhouse gas (GHG) quantifications are supported by the utilisation of the Cool Farm Tool (CFT) developed by Unilever, the University of Aberdeen, and the Sustainable Food Lab. The Cool Farm Alliance brings together farmers, NGOs, multinational food suppliers and retailers to promote agricultural practices that mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Cool Farm Tool is an online greenhouse gas, water, and biodiversity calculator for farmers that is widely used by the supply chain for specific greenhouse gas calculations.

Supported by the CFT tool, and in alignment with to the latest United Nations IPCC science, we quantify on-farm greenhouse gas emission reductions and soil carbon sequestration from the fields participating in the AgreenaCarbon programme, based on a variety of different information relating to former practices, field information, etc. 

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Remote Sensing and AI

In August 2022, Agreena acquired Hummingbird Technologies, one of the world’s most advanced remote sensing companies for regenerative agriculture. Coupling satellite imagery with AI and machine learning, coupled with ground-truth data to provide outputs relating to NDVI (Normalised Difference Vegetations Index) and field boundaries.

Our enhanced remote sensing monitoring capabilities allow Agreena to monitor, verify and report field boundaries as well as on-farm practices such as cover crops, crop rotation and tillage/non-tillage. 

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Soil Sampling

To supplement and build upon this, AgreenaCarbon runs a soil sampling protocol. The soil sampling is done by independent experts and is used during the internal verification process and to capture the most accurate soil organic carbon (SOC) data results possible. 


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 soil 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 agriculture 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 risk 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.


Programme Methodology

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 minimum requirement of no burning to earn their certificates year on year. In addition, the land must remain cropland to stay elligible for the program.

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.

Active cropland

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.

The definition of Additionality is when an individual adopted project activity or suite of activities result in emission reductions or removals greater than what would be achieved under a “business-as-usual” scenario and the project activity would not have occurred in the absence of the incentive provided by the programme.

Agreena ensures additionality by demonstrating regulatory surplus, identifying barriers that would prevent the implementation of agricultural practices, and establishing that new activities are not common practice in the region of implementation.

Regulatory surplus

Before entering a new market, AgreenaCarbon conducts a country-level analysis such that the programme is in compliance with the rules and requirements of that country. We make sure that in a new country, the project will not be mandated by any enforced law, statute or other regulatory framework.

Barrier test

Farmers must also pinpoint at least one barrier to the proposed agricultural management practices that will be implemented as a result of the AgreenaCarbon programme. All of the farmers in the programme pass the barrier test. Among the barriers are 1) financial barriers, such that without the generation of certificate sales there would be no outside incentive for farmers to implement practices; and 2) institutional barriers where, due to the lack of awareness or frequency of a practice, a farmer may see new practices as high-risk.

Common practice test

The common practice test means that the adoption of the proposed project activities is not common practice in the region/country of interest. AgreenaCarbon uses EuroStat and other publicly available census or government data to test whether the adoption of a CA project activity (e.g. reduced tillage) has no higher than a 20% adoption rate.

We have connected an online learning system to our technical platform to assist 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. We hire and engage partners in the regions we work to make sure we can communicate clearly with our farmers. 

A non-permanence buffer serves as a form of insurance for all nature-based programs like AgreenaCarbon’s. All Agreena farmers are required to contribute 20% 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 with GHG reductions, but solely CO2-eq 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 (e.g. 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. The allocation and whether the buffer is used is determined during the verification period and is checked by the third-party verification body. 

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.

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:

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.
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. Field visits and soil sampling are conducted during this step as well to corroborate data. This is followed by a desk review, to ensure accuracy of reported and modelled data.

3rd party verification – Handled by a trusted & industry leading validation and 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 CO2eq removals and reductions, for the use of insetting or offsetting emissions.

In Agreena, we recognize that we have a responsibility to ensure that our certificates will count towards a total reduction of emissions and not just a restructure. This is why when a company wishes to buy certificates from the AgreenaCarbon programme to use for offsetting, the company must have a pathway towards reduction or elimination of their scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

To ensure our buyers are compliant, we look for the following criterias in companies wanting to purchase carbon certificates with us. Each company working with us should comply with the below requirements:

Publicly report their emissions covering the 3 scopes
Commit to abating emissions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement and adopting a public and third-party verified emission reduction map
Track annual emission reduction progress including a publicly stated net-zero target year

It is important to stress that we recommend carbon certificates are not a quick fix and should be used in combination with emission reduction strategies. Carbon certificates should be used to compensate for unavoidable emissions.

It must also be emphasised that in the aim of an overall reduction of emissions, the AgreenaCarbon certificates are to be seen only as a prove of reduction/removal once and are not in any way eligible for resale or distribution. A buyer’s resale of purchased certificates is strictly forbidden and Agreena ApS have the right to recall 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.

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A farmer joins the AgreenaCarbon programme with a farm baseline agreement of 10 years for a group of fields. The contracts are flexible and farmer-oriented, while maintaining environmental integrity. AgreenaCarbon verifies the farmer’s reduced emissions from a farmer’s 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.

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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 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 change. 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.

Please feel free to contact us if you would like additional information.

The concept of agricultural carbon certificates is relatively new, although the potential for the climate impact is large. When creating AgreenaCarbon program, we have sought inspiration from the other standards. We have developed a scientific, scalable, and farmer-friendly digital platform based on methodology, which accurately reflects the GHG protocols, accounting, and fit-for-purpose principles of CO2eq quantification in the agricultural soil.

The carbon certificate market up to this point has mainly focused on renewable energy and forestry for instance by Verra (VCS) or Gold Standard (GS) with tailored methodologies accordingly. Therefore, we decided to develop Ag tailored methodology that perfectly matches the soil carbon and allows individual farmers to become part of the program. In our methodology, we have incorporated the calculation model for estimating CO2 emissions called Cool Farm Tool (CFT). This is a globally recognized model and was developed by numbers of the universities in Europe, fully in-line with the IPCC guidelines and is among recommended by the EU Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance.

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.