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CarbonNOW Grower Spotlight: Allen and Paul Schrag

CarbonNOW Grower Spotlight: Allen and Paul Schrag
April 7, 2022

CarbonNOW® Grower Spotlight

Meet CarbonNOW Farmers Allen And Paul Schrag

The father and son team grow a variety of row crops in Kansas. We sat down to talk with Allen more about their farm operations, his views on regenerative agriculture practices, and what made him decide to join the CarbonNOW carbon farming program.

Name: Allen Schrag

Farm: Silver Creek Farms

Location: Halstead, KS

Crop Types: Corn, Rye, Soybeans, Wheat

Tell us about your farming operation.

Our farm is located in central Kansas, where we farm a variety of crops—corn, rye, soybeans and wheat. I am close to retirement, although I don’t know what that really means for a farmer. We are working on a succession plan to have my son, Paul take over the farm. We are handling Locus AG soil probiotics through A&P Ag Solutions as a way to expand and diversify the business.

Which regenerative agriculture practices do you use?

I try to limit chemical use. I’ve also been no-till for 30 years. We don’t get a lot of water erosion in my area, but we do experience wind erosion. Every year, the skies turn black because of the dust blowing around. When the skies are black, your topsoil is blowing away. With no-till, you hang onto your soil. Since joining the CarbonNOW program, I’m also utilizing Locus AG’s soil probiotics.

Why do you choose to use regenerative agriculture practices?

One word—stewardship. That might not push everyone’s button, but we cannot stay on the path that we are on. We’ve been given the opportunity to manage these soils.

As farmers, it is our calling to leave the earth better than when we picked it up. And now, with the carbon programs, someone is willing to pay us for doing what’s right.

What made you choose to participate in a carbon farming program?

I think carbon is our future. As far as a potential revenue stream I think that it is going to be, or has the potential to be, fairly big. And I’d rather participate early than late.

What made you choose CarbonNOW over other carbon farming programs?

There are carbon farming programs that exist that I respect and like. However, our farm history is probably a bit different than most.

We’ve added a lot of ground in the last ten years, and the ground I added, as I said earlier we have been no tilling for a long time so my long time no till acres were ineligible for other carbon programs. I was unfortunately penalized for being an early adopter and doing the right thing on my original acreage—practicing no-till.

Once I found that with CarbonNOW, I could qualify all of my acres with a simple practice change of using Locus AG’s soil probiotics, I decided it was worth trying.

In addition, I was able to meet with BlueSource (now Anew Climate) representatives who secure buyers for the carbon credits. A lot of farmers think the money for these carbon credits is coming from the government, but it isn’t. The partnership with BlueSource / Anew and their access to carbon credit buyers put the finishing touch on the program.

How are the carbon payments you receive through CarbonNOW impacting your farm?

Anytime you get gift checks like that, whether it’s for carbon credits or FSA payments, it always helps. It costs a lot more to operate this year, so the carbon payment is definitely a nice benefit. Anytime that you can add additional income you need to look at those opportunities.

Tell us your thoughts on Locus AG’s soil health probiotics:

There are many farmers my age who think of soil probiotics as snake oil, due to lack of performance with other products. The fact that Locus AG’s products are backed with carbon credits helps a lot.

It’s too early to tell actual results since we haven’t harvested yet, and we’ve had a severe drought; but I’m hopeful. Just looking at some of the research coming in and looking at my crops, I’m thinking that the Locus AG products are working well.

How has your experience with CarbonNOW been different than with other carbon farming programs?

The biggest difference is that I’m a long time no-tiller. So because of the practice change requirements for other carbon programs, more than half of my acres didn’t qualify. The only acres that did qualify were the ones I’ve picked up in the past 10 years. With Locus AG, I was able to qualify every acre and that’s a huge difference.

CarbonNOW is going to be a lot more predictable of a program. We’ll know when we’ll be paid and how much will be coming in.

What would you tell farmers who are reluctant to participate in a carbon farming program?

I’m excited. It is a market still in its infancy and once we get past this first year, we’ll have more data to back it up.

Anytime you can increase production and get paid well for Carbon it is something you really need to consider.

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