Carbon Farm Planning to Promote Sustainable Agriculture in Texas

Progress report for SPDP22-09

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2022: $79,309.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2024
Grant Recipients: National Center for Appropriate Technology; Carbon Cycle Institute
Region: Southern
State: Texas
Principal Investigator:
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Project Information


The purpose of this project is to educate and train Texas-based agricultural educators, technical advisors and mentor producers on Carbon Farming and the Carbon Farm Planning process, an emergent USDA conservation approach building healthy soils while addressing two urgent priorities: nature-based pathways to draw down atmospheric CO2 and agricultural resilience to climate extremes. This project will elevate awareness of on-farm and ranch Carbon Planning throughout Texas and train the trainers through writing two Carbon Farm Plans and providing an interactive, 7.5 hour Carbon Farm Planning Curriculum Training and Workshop over three-weeks for Texas AgriLife and Cooperative Extension Agents, NRCS State and District Conservationists, and innovative Texas farmers and ranchers. The project will develop mentor-producers and facilitate peer-to-peer producer networking opportunities to promote producer-led information exchanges through Carbon Farm Demonstration field days.

A collaborative team of Carbon Farm Planning trainers (Carbon Cycle Institute), farmers and ranchers (New Leaf Agriculture and Soil for Water rancher), agricultural educators and professionals (Texas AgriLife Extension, NRCS-Texas and NCAT), 1862 and 1890 land grant (Texas A&M and Prairie View A&M) and non-land grant (Texas State) universities will work together to outreach and educate the agricultural community on Carbon Farm Planning.

At the conclusion of the project, Texas will have a knowledge sharing network with experience in Carbon Farm planning and on-farm and ranch adoption of conservation practices building soil health and on-farm resilience. Project partners and supporters will leverage established networks to continue sharing information regarding the establishment of a Carbon Farm Planning program for Texas.

Project Objectives:

Objective 1: Elevate awareness of Carbon Farm Planning within the Texas agricultural community and generate interest in adapting and embedding a Carbon Farm Planning program within a Texas agency.

  • Technical assistance providers in Texas will be able to describe Carbon Farm Planning as a conservation planning tool for farms and ranches, as well as recognize a Carbon Farm Plan and differentiate it from other USDA conservation plans.
  • Members of the sustainable and conventional agricultural communities will express interest in using this tool and adopting conservation practices with quantifiable climate benefits that also build soil health and farm resilience.
  • A statewide organization with locally based offices, such as the State Soil and Water Conservation Board, will assess the possibility of acting as hubs that foster local partnerships to develop and implement Carbon Farm Plans and practices at the farm and ranch level.

Objective 2: Create interactive train-the-trainer learning environments and write two full Carbon Farm Plans - one for a farm and one for a ranch - in order to effectively utilize this conservation planning tool to build soil health and farm resilience.

  • Training attendees will demonstrate the ability to use the USDA COMET-Farm and COMET-Planner carbon accounting tools to assess a parcel of agricultural land and quantify potential climate benefits from selected conservation practices.
  • Selected training graduates will apply fundamental knowledge of Carbon Farm Planning to the writing of a full Carbon Farm Plan.
  • NCAT staff will exhibit the ability to independently write a full Carbon Farm Plan.

Objective 3: Facilitate producer networks to promote producer-led training and future information exchanges.

  • Innovative Texas mentor-producers will plan for carbon farming practices on their farms and ranches and start to implement conservation practices with quantifiable climate benefits.
  • Mentor-producers will share their experiences with fellow members of the agricultural community, who will then recognize the on-farm and ranch benefits of adopting carbon farming conservation practices.
  • A community of Texas agricultural innovators will organize around a shared interest in the Carbon Farming framework as a conservation planning tool and begin to pursue planning assistance for carbon farming practices on their farms and ranches.


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Matt Simon
  • Lynette Niebrugge
  • Dr. Jeffrey Creque
  • Chiana Palmer
  • Peter Agboola
  • Dr. Daniel Leskovar
  • William Durham
  • Dr. Nicole Wagner
  • Dr. Richard Griffin
  • Dr. Nithya Rajan
  • Lindsay Burnette


Educational approach:

The educational approach used in this project is experiential and collaborative. We are creating learning environments that offer tangible activities and applicable scenarios. The two on-farm Demonstration Field Days will allow producers to see firsthand the array of possibilities in choosing which practices to adopt in order to help them sort through a large volume of information to determine key takeaways that are most relevant to their growing contexts. The field days will also allow producers to engage in peer-to-peer learning in order to gain understanding and work through persistent on-farm barriers in a collaborative, supportive, problem-solving environment. The four-week online, interactive Carbon Farm Planning Training and Curriculum contains activities and exercises to apply learning. After successful completion of the training, Planners will have an opportunity to identify a farm or ranch, build a Carbon Farm Planning team and write a plan in consultation with NCAT, who will be providing boots-on-the-ground planning technical assistance and review Plan progress all the way to completion.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Carbon Farm Planning Training and Curriculum

Make the connection between climate and carbon-rich soils
Introduce the Carbon Farm Planning conservation framework​
Demonstrate conservation planning through a carbon lens
Provide entry-level readiness to write Carbon Farm Plans. ​
Recruit at least 30 technical assistance providers/technical service providers to register


Scheduled to take place in September 2023, the Carbon Farm Planning Curriculum Training and Curriculum will be a free, four-week, online training. The interactive series consists of one live, 2.5-hour lesson each week that is supplemented by take home assignments that will be reviewed by CCI and NCAT for accuracy and understanding. The training will be led by CCI and supported by NCAT staff. Attendees will consist of regional and state conservationists from USDA NRCS, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension County Agents, Prairie View A&M Cooperative Extension County Agents and State Program Specialists, State Soil and Water Conservation District Coordinators, and other agricultural professionals and educators such as Holistic Management International.

Upon successful completion and receipt of certification, Planners will then have the opportunity to initiate a Carbon Farm Plan in their region with boots-on-the-ground technical assistance and support from NCAT. This will be how NCAT evolves into an eventual statewide trainer role, by facilitating and providing support to a network of local Carbon Farm Planning teams led by district and county-level TSPs/TAPs embedded in the local communities they're serving.

Outcomes and impacts:

100% of attendees will complete the training & indicate improved knowledge

90% of attendees will express interest in becoming Planners

At least 3 Planners will be skilled in writing CFPs

With support from NCAT, at least 3 Carbon Farm Planning teams are created to write 3 unique Carbon Farm Plans for Texas farms and ranches.

Educational & Outreach Activities

5 Consultations
2 Published press articles, newsletters
5 Webinars / talks / presentations

Participation Summary:

1 Extension
6 Nonprofit
2 Agency
23 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
10 Farmers/ranchers
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.