Field-Stream

Ecosystem Markets. Built for Producers. Backed by Science.

ESMC’s national scale ecosystem services market program, Eco-Harvest, rewards agricultural producers for beneficial environmental outcomes from regenerative agriculture. Eco-Harvest is science- and outcomes-focused and not practice specific, meaning producers have autonomy to decide which practice changes are best suited to their operation based on a menu of specific practices/systems. Focusing first and foremost on farmers and ranchers, Eco-Harvest is designed to encourage regenerative agricultural production systems that create sound social, economic, and environmental outcomes that benefit producers, local communities, consumers, and society. 

Each producer’s carbon, greenhouse gas, and water quality outcomes are quantified, and the credits generated can be stacked in our streamlined program. ESMC is committed to maximizing the value returned to producers while meeting multiple market needs of buyers. By generating credits that food and beverage companies seek, Eco-Harvest enables our members and society to meet high priority climate change and sustainability goals. Producers’ environmental stewardship of private land is recognized and rewarded for its public benefits.   

ESMC is currently conducting Eco-Harvest projects for both market projects and pilot projects. Eco-Harvest market projects are those that are market ready and where all components have been market tested and are launched at scale across market project regions. Eco-Harvest pilot projects are those that are focusing on research and innovation questions.

Eco-Harvest pilot projects typically run for one to two years and are intended to roll over into scaled Eco-Harvest market projects once the identified research questions have been answered and market readiness criteria are achieved.

Participating in Eco-Harvest Market and Pilot Projects

Whether producers are participating in Eco-Harvest market projects or pilot projects, the general steps are the same and include producer outreach, engagement and technical assistance to enable practice changes, enrollment, soil sampling, credit quantification and verification, generation, and credit sale, resulting in payments.

Eco-Harvest Market Project Eligibility Information for Producers

Producers interested in Eco-Harvest market project enrollment need to be:

  • Producers who are interested in adopting soil health systems and new conservation practices that benefit their agricultural operations while improving environmental impacts.  
  • Producers interested in implementing improvements that exceed minimum standards set by law.  
  • Producers who can provide proof of land use rights, including explicit authorization from the responsible agency for any rented fields on state or local-government owned land.  
  • Producers managing land that is not federally owned, has not been deforested or previously in natural areas in the past 10 years, and has not been converted from grassland to cropland in the past 10 years.  
  • Producers with fields that are not enrolled in another ecosystem service program that generates credits, offsets, or claims related to soil carbon sequestration and/or changes in GHGs.  
  • Producers operating within specific ESMC Program regions & production systems. Current Eco-Harvest program regionsinclude the Midwest Corn and Soy Belt, Northern Great Plains, Southern Great Plains, and Great Lakes regions for corn, soy, wheat, alfalfa, and oats cropping systems. 
  • Producers who are newly implementing at least one of the following practice changes on a given crop: cover cropping, tillage reduction, and nutrient management. Producers are encouraged to enroll fields that are also eligible for federal, state, and local cost-share programs that incentivize conservation practice implementation. Check with your local NRCS office to see if there are incentives available in your area that can provide up-front financing to lower costs and increase returns. 

*For Producers operating on newly acquired land who are not aware of prior land practices, remote sensing can be used to ensure cover crops or reduced tillage have not been used in the past 10 years.  

Download Eco-Harvest Market Program eligibility information

Eco-Harvest Pilot Project Eligibility Information for Producers

The purpose of Eco-Harvest pilot projects is to test and refine processes and methodologies in accordance with the following objectives:  

  • Introduce innovation to Eco-Harvest program operations.  
  • Test and evaluate new tools, technologies, and practice changes.
  • Determine credit quantification processes for new crops, production regions, and practice changes. 
  • Improve cost efficiencies for soil sampling, data collection and processing, and other programmatic activities. 
  • Maintain and enhance scientific rigor of Eco-Harvest program operations. 
  • Incorporate feedback from pilot partners and members.  

Where possible, carbon, greenhouse gas, water quality, and water quantity outcomes are quantified for producers participating in Eco-Harvest pilot projects, and the credits generated are stacked to provide increased value for both producers and buyers.

Eligibility: Producers interested in participating in an Eco-Harvest pilot project must be: 

  • Interested in adopting soil health systems and new conservation practices that benefit their agricultural operations while improving environmental impacts.  
  • Interested in implementing improvements that exceed minimum standards set by law.  
  • Able to provide proof of land use, including explicit authorization from the responsible agency for any rented fields on state or local-government owned land.  
  • Managing land that is not federally owned, has not been deforested or previously in natural areas in the past 10 years, and has not been converted from grassland to cropland in the past 10 years.  
  • Interested in enrolling fields that are not participating in another ecosystem service program that generates credits, offsets, or claims related to soil carbon sequestration and/or changes in greenhouse gas emissions.  
  • Newly implementing at least one of the following practice changes on cropland: cover cropping, tillage reduction, nutrient management, cropland grazing, prescribed grazing, conversion of cropland to grassland, irrigation water management (case by case), drainage water management, surface water management, or whole orchard recycling. Producers are encouraged to enroll fields that are also eligible for federal, state, and local cost-share programs that incentivize implementation of conservation practices. Check with your local NRCS office to learn if there are incentives available in your area that provide up-front financing to lower costs and increase returns. 

*For Producers operating on newly acquired land who are not aware of prior land practices, remote sensing can be used to ensure cover crops or reduced tillage have not been used in the past 10 years.  

Download Eco-Harvest Pilot Program eligibility information

Eco-Harvest Enrollment for Market and Pilot Projects

  • There are no minimum or maximum acreage enrollment limits. Producers are not required to enroll all their acreage either at sign-up or at any time.  
  • Producers can phase in more acres and/or practices over time as they see fit.  
  • Producers are not required to relinquish data ownership or purchase new inputs, subscriptions, etc. 
  • Producers pay no fees and do not have to purchase inputs to participate in Eco-Harvest.  
  • Producers enroll in 5-year contracts with Eco-Harvest market projects. With 2022 launch, producers can enroll for the 2023 reporting year. 
  • Producers have the option of rolling their pilot project over into a scaled Eco-Harvest market project once the identified research questions have been answered and market readiness criteria are achieved. 

Sign Up

To contact an ESMC staff person and express interest in enrolling, please complete the producer form here.

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