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CarbonNOW Grower Spotlight: Todd Olander

CarbonNOW Grower Spotlight: Todd Olander
April 7, 2022

CarbonNOW® Grower Spotlight

Meet CarbonNOW Farmer Todd Olander

Todd grows a variety of row crops on 2,000 acres in Colorado. We sat down to talk more about his farm operations and his offshoot business—Root Shoot Malting—as well as his views on regenerative practices. He tells us what made him decide to join the CarbonNOW carbon farming program.

Name: Todd Olander

Farm: Olander Farms and Root Shoot Malting

Location: Loveland, CO

Crop Types: Alfalfa, Barley, Corn, Cover crops, Rye, Wheat

Tell us about your farming operation.

Our farm is located north of Denver, west of I-25. There isn’t much farmland left in our area with the growth of the Denver suburban area.

In 2015 we decided to get into malting, slowly expanding and recently adding a third drum to our malt house. We produce ~750,000 lb. of malt per drum on an annual basis. We supply our malt to 175-plus brewers and distilleries across the state of Colorado.

Which regenerative agriculture practices do you use?

We practice an eight-year crop rotation cycle which includes cover crops like legumes or turnips that typically follow small grains. We’ve also implemented grazing and practice minimal tillage, with plans to go no-till if possible. In addition, we’re composting with manure from local dairies.

Why do you choose to use regenerative agriculture practices?

Our farm and our practices are unique in our area at this time. Nobody else is doing what we are doing, but everyone is watching to see if we succeed or fail. While climate change is controversial, there is something happening here. Carbon markets might persuade other farmers to engage in regenerative practices.

We cannot do the same old thing and continue to operate successful farms. We need to add value beyond commodity crops and look at new methods and products that can help improve our soil.

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

I investigated several carbon farming programs because I do like the idea of cashing in on carbon credits. My main interest, however, is in the possibility of getting rewarded for sequestering additional carbon, as well as the chance that improving soil can lower input costs and supply better water filtration. I also believe the carbon message and regenerative practices will help with marketing in the malting business.

What made you choose CarbonNOW over other carbon farming programs?

For me, it’s the fact the program actually visits the farm and conducts soil testing and analysis. This supplies better verification compared to any other program. And a key feature is that Bluesource is the backer for guaranteed purchasers of carbon credits. That’s where other programs fall short.

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

This will be my first year trying soil probiotics. While I have no prior experience with them, soil scientists swear by them. And we need to listen to the experts. Like any other new regenerative practice, change takes time, but I’m willing to be patient and wait for the results. I have had some success with biological treatments in barley in the past, so I’m optimistic.

How are the CarbonNOW carbon farming payments helping your farm?

The upfront CarbonNOW carbon farming payment paid for product, the Locus AG soil probiotics. It’s also helping with other expenses we’re facing—fuel costs, increasing fertilizer costs.

How has your experience been with the CarbonNOW carbon farming program?

Owner of Root Shoot Malting, Todd Olander, and wife in field

The CarbonNOW program has been good so far. I’m looking forward to seeing the results from the on-farm soil testing. With Locus AG’s carbon farming program, we can add more value than just growing commodity crops, and help sustain our farming long-term.

What are your future plans?

I’m interested in lowering my use of inputs, making the soil healthier and growing more crops with less water.

In addition to CarbonNOW, our farm also participates in the 100-year-lease program. This helps preserve family farms, establishes conservation easements and limits development. It’s an amazing tool, particularly for farmers who need to retire—it helps them leverage their assets, like the land, without having to develop it. This program helps preserve open space and productive soil as part of the stewardship role of family farmers.

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

A lot of local farmers are asking what we’re doing and why—a great first step. I think once they see results, like yield/input ratios, there will be quick adoption of these regenerative practices, the CarbonNOW carbon farming programs and Locus AG’s soil probiotics.

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