Understanding Carbon Intensity Scores

Carbon intensity (CI) is simply defined as carbon dioxide emissions per unit of energy. While the definition might be simple, figuring a CI score is anything but simple.

Carbon dioxide makes up the majority of greenhouse gas emissions across all industries, including the agricultural sector. Carbon Intensity Scores allow us to quantify and compare the emissions associated with producing, distributing, and consuming a product or activity. A higher score indicates a higher carbon footprint.

Ascertaining for a unit of feedstock produced and crediting the correct amount of carbon sequestered is a complex task with a high level of uncertainty. Many data points need to be measured, recorded, and verified to develop an accurate CI number. MRV platforms help assist in collecting and compiling the data necessary to calculate CI numbers efficiently and accurately.

On a farm, a CI Score accounts for all up- and downstream emissions per unit of output – including that of the practices and inputs used. In particular, scores are affected by fertilizer and chemical application types and rates, on-farm energy consumption per unit area, and yield per unit area. While each farm and system vary, the fertilizer and chemical application types and rates contribute the most to a CI score, on average.

With agriculture systems serving as the origin for so many of our products, this has huge implications for CI Scores off the farm as well. With our in-house expertise in MRV, we are helping companies better understand their carbon footprints and the right strategies to reduce or sequester emissions.

There is a growing body of evidence that shows that regenerative agriculture can have a positive impact on CI scores.

> A study published in the journal Nature found that regenerative agriculture could help to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by up to 10 percent. Read More >>>

> Another study published in the journal Science, found that regenerative agriculture could help to improve water quality and increase biodiversity. Read More >>>

The environmental benefits of regenerative agriculture are numerous and stretch throughout the value chain.

Contact AgSpire to learn more about your Carbon Intensity Score and how to unlock the potential of regenerative agriculture, email info@agspire.com.

About the Author

Senior Conservation Agronomist

Derek has over 15 years of experience working with landowners and corporations to design, manage, and validate research trials, maximizing short- and long-term crop outputs. With a continued passion for conservation and the natural ecosystem, he is focused on the natural symbiosis organisms have with one another in the environment. Always eager to learn, he is continuously expanding his knowledge of soil health, chemistry, and pest disease management.

Derek holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology from South Dakota State University and a master’s degree in Agronomy from Iowa State University. He is also a Certified Crop Advisor and Technical Service Provider through NRCS.

About AgSpire

AgSpire provides customized solutions for those who want to create positive land-use outcomes. The organization was founded in 2021 from the passion to amplify the implementation of positive land use practices, resulting in tangible and quantifiable outcomes for the environment and our society. AgSpire specializes in strategy and implementation of regenerative agriculture solutions for clients in the food, agricultural, and natural resource space and solves for an increasingly complex agricultural landscape in need of balanced short-term efficiency and long-term viability.