Sam Schiller on why 100 dollars per tonne of CO2 equivalent stored is key to kick start regen ag and how to get there

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Soil carbon models greatly underestimate the potential of regenerative agriculture. We discussed it with Sam Schiller, founder and CEO of Carbon Yield. Carbon Yield helps farmers access new revenue streams in the carbon markets.

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How can 100 dollars per tonne of CO2 (one ton of carbon stored in the soil is equivalent to 3.66 tonnes CO2e) become the key to kick start regenerative agriculture? How can we get there? These are the exciting questions that we will be answering in the episode of Investing in Regenerative Agriculture with our guest Sam Schiller

Carbon Markets and Carbon Revenue

Sam’s personal and professional story with regenerative agriculture started collaborating with rural communities in environmental projects. He has always found himself in translator roles that led him to see the potential of carbon markets in enabling massive climate action. His goal is making carbon markets and carbon revenue a more meaningful value stream that can help farmers transition to sustaining operations. 

“We formed some partnerships and project development activities that have furthered the goal of making carbon markets and carbon revenue a more meaningful value stream. Which in turn, help farmers transition to a sustaining operation and a prosperous future, or to be able to stay on the land and leave a legacy of environmental stewardship. Ultimately to continue feeding us that very healthy food on healthy soil.” – Sam Schiller

Partnerships with Hudson Carbon

Carbon Yield has a partnership with Hudson Carbon, one of the most rigorous research operations in terms of farm examination. This comprehensive research includes taking soil cores, flux towers, and biomass measurements. This will have the potential of game-changing the sector which will compensate regenerative farms for the benefits they are creating. 

“One of the criticisms of carbon projects in agriculture is that there’s a permanence issue. The challenge is if you till the ground, you’re losing all the biological benefit that you’ve created. What they found is that a lot of that biological activity that penetrated below the reach of tillage implements has been increasing faster than some of the gains and shallower layers. That’s really interesting. This can potentially be game-changing in the sector because the rates that they’re calculating on their farms.” – Sam Schiller

Cheap Commodity Carbon

Carbon is tremendously under-priced. Sam hopes to someday improve process-based models and the accounting for carbon in regenerative agriculture. The bigger impact he and his team hope to achieve is the increase of price farmers get for their carbon. Carbon Yield is trying to compel consumers to trust that emission reductions are real and also inspire them to participate in activating climate action. Farms have potential to be more transparent and enable consumers to view the changes on the ground. 

“I think people are excited about connecting with their growers. And we want to create the kind of farmer’s market experience of buying offsets and feeling like you are participating in this change making process. So with our partners at Hudson Carbon, in addition to the research, we’re launching a marketplace to market their carbon and to connect the carbon offsets that they’ve generated to specific parcels on their land.”  – Sam Schiller

100 Dollars A Tonne of CO2e Stored

Carbon Yield wants to price carbon at a rate that will reflect the actual cost and also reflect the opportunities carbon creates for farmers. They have set the astronomical price of a 100 dollars per tonne of CO2e stored, which is 10 times what a lot of markets are currently offering. The imagery of being able to acquire seven tonnes per acre at a hundred dollars per tonne will be massively motivating for the farmers.

“If it’s $10 and it’s $20 per acre this will not make a massive change. It really fails to recognize the unique challenges of being a grower. How do you make these long term decisions? Do you really want to invest the time in the paperwork and just the headache of being a part of a carbon market? This is uncertain. So we really pride ourselves in being responsive developers and in really analyzing where we can maximize value for the risk tolerance and the risk appetite of the farmer.” – Sam Schiller

Other Important Points Discussed

Koen and Sam discussed these points in this episode

  • What Sam would do if he were in charge of a $1 Billion investment portfolio 
  • What Sam sees smart investors should look out for
  • What Sam would do if he had a magic wand that could change one thing overnight in the agriculture and food space
  • What Sam believes to a multi-million dollar investment in the next couple of decades

To know more about Sam Schiller, Carbon Yield and how it can help access new revenues streams in carbon markets, download and listen to this episode.

Bio:

Sam is the founder & CEO of Carbon Yield, a firm that helps farmers access carbon markets and adapt to climate change. He also advises organizations and investors engaged in mission driven, climate impact work. His past experience includes launching and scaling two environmental startups focused on carbon offsets and clean energy project development: Wabashco and Tradewater. Sam’s pioneering work has produced 21 carbon offset projects, monetizing over 2M tons of greenhouse gas reductions.

Since exiting Tradewater in the spring of 2018, Sam has focused on utilizing environmental markets to advance carbon sequestration projects in agricultural landscapes. In 2019, Sam founded Carbon Yield, where he has utilized his deep experience in carbon markets and agricultural communities to better align emerging market infrastructure with the needs of farmers. Carbon Yield is developing a pilot carbon offset project on foundation owned farmland in New York’s Hudson Valley. Carbon Yield has also designed a financial product that serves large grain farmers, allowing them to stay cash positive through transitions to more profitable, climate resilient practices.

His work with Carbon Yield earned the Zell Fellowship, Kellogg School of Management’s premier entrepreneurial program. Carbon Yield also presented its fund model in Hong Kong and won the 2019 Kellogg-Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge and was recognized as a World Changing Idea by Fast Company. Sam serves as Board Chair of the Delta Institute, a nonprofit with deep experience in environmental markets, regenerative agriculture, and conservation finance. Sam graduated with a degree in social policy and environmental policy from Northwestern University and is currently enrolled as an MBA candidate at the Kellogg School of Management. 

Links: 

Carbon Yield

Other Websites:

Interviews: 

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Feedback, comments, suggestions? Reach me via Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.

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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

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