Midwestern farmers are longtime stewards of our productive region. They are uniquely positioned to solve the environmental and financial challenge of profitably and sustainably feeding a growing population while protecting the soil, air and water, on which our businesses, communities, and families all rely. As previous generations of farmers overcame the limitations of nutrient availability to feed more people on fewer acres, today’s farmers are called to manage those nutrients to maximize input efficiency and optimize yield potential while minimizing environmental impacts.

One of these impacts is increased emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) from nitrogen (N) fertilizer management. Delta Institute’s Nitrogen Credit Program (NCP) offers farmers financial incentives for reducing N2O emissions from synthetic and organic N fertilizers applied to their fields through a “4R” nutrient stewardship strategy. By implementing certain N management activities, farmers can earn emission reduction credits. NCP will pool eligible projects on a yearly basis, submit them for third-party verification, sell the verified N credits, and return any revenue from the sale (less transaction and verification costs) to participating farmers. This voluntary and market-based approach pays landowners, or renters by agreement, for the environmental benefits of their activities—all without government intervention.

This program is based on field trials conducted by Michigan State University (MSU) and MSU Extension. With support from the Electric Power Research Institute, data from that research was translated into a formula-based credit methodology endorsed by the American Carbon Registry.

How does the NCP work?
First, farmers provide data about their fertilizer management practices. Next, Delta calculates your N credits based on this data. Then, a non-governmental third-party verifies the calculations, and credits are awarded. The Program bundles and sells the credits, and returns revenue to participating farmers.

How do I know if I’m eligible?DNCP Eligible States
Eligible participants are corn farmers in the North Central Region (as shown on the map) who are interested in improving N use efficiency and can document that they have reduced, or are willing to reduce N fertilizer applications to the corn component of their crop rotation. Other practices—such as changing fertilizer timing or placement, using slow-release or inhibitor products, and planting cover crops—can also reduce N2O emissions and may qualify for credit under a separate, model-based American Carbon Registry methodology. To date, however, only N rate adjustments on corn crops have been accepted in this region.

How much does it pay and how much will it cost me?
Individual revenues will be based on the number of N credits you generate by shifting N fertilizer application rates, less costs of verification and sale. The only cost to you is the time it takes to provide the data.

What data or documentation do I need to provide?

  • Application dates, rates, and N content for each product applied, for each field you enroll. If you have access to those same data points for the same field(s) for recent years, providing that information may help you generate more N credits. Your retailer or service provider may be able to provide recent historical data directly to the Program with your consent.
  • Field coordinates (latitude/longitude from GPS or township/range/section/quarter from legal description);
  • Ownership and lease agreements (you must document control of your land in order to establish custody of any credits generated);
  • Fertilizer application records (receipts, load sheets, or other documentation from your retailer or service provider).
  • Adherence to voluntary state, university, or industry 4R guidelines, depending on your state and cropping system. Links to relevant documents for the 12 eligible states are available through the NCP resources page.

What do I do next?
The first step is to engage in a screening process that will help you determine your N credit potential. After receiving the completed screening form, we will calculate your potential and follow up with you via your preferred method of contact. If you decide you would like to proceed beyond the screening phase, your participation will be formalized by signing an agreement with NCP. You will then need to provide the data and documentation listed above via email or the NCP website. All personal identification and farm operation information will be kept confidential.