This first integrated edition of the ESM Protocol establishes a tiered and modular approach to generate 4 environmental credits or assets from working agricultural lands: soil carbon, net greenhouse gases (GHGs), water quality, and water quantity. Each attribute allows participating ranchers and farmers to generate saleable assets as a result of soil health and other regenerative agricultural improvements on their operations. The Protocol is designed to meet the needs of farmers, ranchers, and potential buyers considering participation for any of the four environmental attributes by allowing them a singular point of entry to participate in multiple market opportunities. Potential buyers will have access to certified soil carbon, net GHG, water quality, or water quantity assets generated through a scientifically rigorous, standards-based, and cost-effective process to meet corporate sustainability and reporting standards.

ESMC’s Protocol has been specifically tailored for coverage of all agricultural production systems in the Southern Great Plains and in the Midwestern corn / soy region. The protocol describes the process that ranchers and farmers participating in ESMC must undergo to quantify, monitor, report, verify, and register individual environmental assets generated on their working agricultural lands. Generated environmental assets range from certificates to credits and are compatible with corporate reporting requirements and existing ecosystem services markets.

ESMC’s plans for scaling across all major US geographies and agricultural production systems are enabled by protocol adaptations by region and production system. ESMC is developing the Northern and Western Great Plains protocol adaptation now; followed by the Great Lakes/New England Region; and CA/Western Region high value specialty crops. Pilots in each region are being planned to begin as soon as each adaptation is completed, allowing ESMC to operate in at least 6 major regions by the time it fully launches its market in 2022. Nationwide expansion will continue beyond the market launch. A map outlining the ESMC protocol expansion plan is found here.

ESMC is planning the addition of new attributes such as biodiversity and habitat conservation as modular expansions to ESMC’s protocol.

The technical brief summarizing the assessment of quantification tools and models, protocols and methodologies, which preceded the development of ESMC Protocols, may be found here.