There’s No Carbon Farming Without the Farmer

Innovating in agriculture is notoriously difficult. Too often, big ideas put the burden on the farmer without taking their needs and risk appetites into account. 

Rather than put the burden of practice change on the farmer, Eion takes a different approach—we offer something that slots in easily to current farm practice, with direct benefits to the farmer. From our measurement approach to our selection of olivine as a soil amendment, every decision we make sets out to do right by farmers.

Why Olivine?

Olivine is one of the most abundant mineral on Earth and shows up wherever tectonic plates collide or volcanoes bring mantle rock to the surface (like here on this beach in Hawaii). We like it because olivine tops the list of minerals that remove carbon dioxide as it weathers. The same reasons that make olivine great at carbon removal are also great for farmers. Farmers love olivine because it can be fit into their existing processes and is a step up from a ubiquitous product, lime or ag lime, which we’ll dive into next.

Olivine Soil Benefits

Farmers commonly use a soil amendment called lime  to balance the pH levels in soils. Think of aglime as Vitamin C for the soil. It raises soil pH to make all of the little bugs in charge of processing nutrients happy, which means happier plants and healthier crops. Aglime is usually applied every 2-3 years when farmers go out to prepare soils, either before planting or after harvesting.

While ag lime works great, it’s been getting more expensive over the years, which has left farmers looking for alternatives. That’s where olivine comes in. Not only does olivine give farmers all of the same benefits as ag lime, it actually has a bunch of interesting properties that make it even more effective than ag lime as a pH conditioner for the soil (read: even little  happier bugs).

“We’re using the mineral to not only sequester atmospheric carbon, but to improve overall soil health. It’s saving me $30 an acre. It’s true realized value.” — Dan Prevost, Farmer & Director of Sustainability, SouthernAg

Olivine is 20% better at conditioning soil pH than calcium carbonate, which means farmers take 20% fewer passes across their fields to apply it. In the grand scheme of things that matters because driving heavy machinery full of pulverized rocks compacts the soil down, requiring extra work from the farmers to make it airy and fluffy again before planting crops.

Removing Carbon with Olivine

Back to the carbon removal part of all of this. At Eion, we love olivine for all the same reasons farmers do AND because it has the most bang for the buck in removing carbon. Aside from the agronomic benefits, more efficient removal means better economics across the entire supply chain and a more cost effective solution (which is instrumental to scaling).

Our olivine soil amendment (aka CarbonLock) removes about one ton of CO2 per ton of rock applied. On average, we recommend using two tons per acre and can repeat about every 2-3 years on the same land. These estimates build from standard lime recommendations and pH targets for crops. Eion works directly with farmers to test their soil and make specific acre recommendations based on their unique needs.

When it comes to applying olivine, farmers can use their existing farm equipment and standard spreaders. Olivine can even be combined with other soil amendments like manure to avoid extra passes over fields. That means no exotic equipment to buy, no new ways of doing things, and no extra burden on the farmer.

“Eion is the first company that brought a solution to us that, scientifically we believe can permanently remove carbon, do it with ease, and with little to no disruption whatsoever to the grower base by fitting the way that they’re currently farming.” — Cam Smith, CEO of AGRIgate


Scale Comes from Working with Agriculture

After the farmer, no one plays a bigger role than their crop advisor who helps them turn their goals into a management program, combining genetics, crop protection, nutrients, and equipment. Together, these crop advisors touch every one of America’s acres, and ensure that the inputs arrive on time, and the harvest is taken to market.

Eion partners with trusted local crop advisors and soil specialists to create an application strategy that’s best suited for a particular grower’s fields, their agronomic needs, and business goals. Working closely with farmers like this is how we determine the right amount of olivine to apply per acre, and the farmer gets the added benefit of site-specific resource management and data at their fingertips—which makes their business that much more efficient. 

This kind of precision data isn’t something farmers can readily do themselves, so by working with Eion they’re not only getting access to a great soil amendment product, they’re gaining access to data and land management support that are squarely aligned with their interests.

Eion will scale by working with agriculture, and we’ve partnered directly with trusted agricultural groups that reach many farmers and many acres in their respective regions. One of our main partners, AGRIgate (also known as Southern Ag) advises farmers representing over 1 million acres and brings over 200 years of combined professional experience in crop management and agricultural research. We rely on AGRIgate to manage Eion’s last-mile logistics, farmer engagement, and soil sampling protocol, ensuring every acre considered is appropriate from a carbon removal, agronomic, and social perspective. They also manage the timeliness and accuracy of all soil sampling, ensuring that Eion’s carbon removal process is held to a scientifically rigorous standard.

Working with the existing system means we can scale a critical climate solution quickly and put people to work along the way. All the while, just letting farmers do what they do best.