April 22, 2014 Pat Beaujot
Carbon Footprint Certification
Seed Hawk recently became the first agricultural company in the world to receive Carbon Footprint Certification. Why is Carbon Footprint Certification important? Why should I care about it? How does it impact me? These are valid questions, and they have reasonable answers. As the founder of a company that builds a product that is used for no-till farming, it was important for me to get the message out to the public that our product is good for the environment and the process of Carbon Certification was the best way to do that.
When a farmer no-tills his/her land, he leaves plant residue, made up of stalks, leaves, and roots on the land, and by doing this, he builds up organic matter in the soil. The plants that make up that residue take carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas from the air, and stores it in the soil as biomass. Some of that carbon dioxide is taken away as a crop, but the rest remains in the soil, breaking down very slowly, and further enriching it for future crops and future generations. This biomass is extremely important in producing quality, nourishing crops. A tillage operation breaks down the organic matter and that carbon dioxide is released back into the atmosphere. No-till as a method of farming is desirable because by cleaning the air and enriching the soil, it is a win/win for the environment.
This is a big deal and a good news story for agriculture, but it doesn’t get a lot of media attention. At a time when the Agriculture Industry is under careful scrutiny by larger society, the Carbon Certification Program is a way for us to show the public, both by showing the energy required to build our product, and then what is saved by using our product, that some companies are keeping the environment a priority in their business practices. It will also draw attention to the practice of no-till farming and how it is helping the environment. As an example, a farmer that seeds 5000 acres using a no-till system like that of Seed Hawk will store about 800 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in the soil every year, which is significant.
The first step of the Carbon Certification process involved us approaching an organization called the Saskatchewan Research Council, who helped us to calculate the footprint of building our product. They put us in touch with Carbon Trust, which is an organization in the UK with a well-respected label around the world. Carbon Trust analysed our numbers and qualified us for certification on our 45 and XL series toolbars, and our 30 series models.
The next step will be to help the farmer to calculate the amount of carbon he or she sequesters in their soil. The calculations exist and are fairly well-known and can be used toward Carbon Credits. Seed Hawk will work toward an additional label to show carbon sequestering for the farmer. This label, coupled with the Carbon Footprint for production of the product, will add up to a significant environmental benefit that will be visible to the public.
The reason we did this now is that the world is becoming more and more carbon-conscious. Consumers are looking at what goes into producing a product before it gets to their table. As demand for this kind of information grows, farmers are going to be asked to provide it. I think we will start to see Carbon Footprint information on a bottle of Canola oil, on a bag of flour. As a seeder manufacturer, we are seeking to be ahead of the curve and provide that information for farmers, so they can provide it to the end consumer. Taking the time to get this done early will do a lot to show how our customers are doing their part for the environment through the decisions they make for their operations.