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Carbon Intensity FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about Carbon Intensity

Here are some of the frequently asked questions we have been receiving from growers, farmers, dealers and customers across the country… and we wanted to make sure we share this information with you!

Carbon Intensity (CI) 101

We foresee CI scores becoming a standard in all industries. Our ongoing efforts aim to establish our program as the most accurate and efficient in this regard.

Unlike separate voluntary and commodity markets, Carbon Intensity integrates with the supply chain, allowing the tracking of the product’s carbon footprint from production to consumers.

Installing a CO2 pipeline can reduce the carbon intensity score by approximately 30 points. However, the adoption of pipelines may not become widespread soon, as some companies, like Navigator, have withdrawn, and others aren’t expected to join until 2026.

Carbon intensity is the amount of energy that goes into every unit or every bushel of grain.

Carbon Intensity is the measure of energy input per bushel of produced grain.

The CI Score serves as a standardized unit of measurement to record our carbon footprint and overall environmental impact.

As farmers, we are part of the carbon footprint of the biofuel company or whoever we’re selling our grain to but ultimately that grain buyer needs to know the carbon footprint coming from us on the farm and we can tell them that carbon footprint via the carbon intensity score. This acts as unified unit of measurement.

This is Continuum. We are working to measure, monitor, report, and verify the carbon impact of our customers via a Carbon Intensity Score.

Created by the Department of Energy, this tool is the baseline used to measure Carbon Intensity.

Carbon Intensity (CI) Score

Our system is directly linked to the GREET model and automatically updates when there are changes. Users with existing CI scores will be notified of how these updates may affect their scores.

In the future, we anticipate CI scores becoming integral to all industries and markets. Staying ahead of these programs is crucial for gaining a competitive advantage.

Optimizing nutrients would lower the CI score. The energy associated with fertilizers, fuel, and other inputs contributes to the CI score, so reducing these inputs results in a lower overall score.

Currently, these two scores don’t have a direct relationship impacting overall scores. However, maintaining healthy soil can reduce the need for fertilizers, improving yield and subsequently lowering the CI score.

Yes, farmers will be paid based on how much lower their score is compared to the Average score in their county, with the national average being 29.1.

The cost is $500 and you can start by creating a Farm Profile on TopSoil.Ag.

That number comes from the Argon National Lab. They developed the GREET model which is an analytical tool that simulates the energy use and emissions output of various vehicle and fuel combinations. The carbon intensity score is a unit of measure to standardize all these different types of fuels and energy.

Biofuel companies rely on low CI crops from farmers to earn credits, while farmers depend on these credits to reduce their scores. The collaboration between the two is essential, as they complement each other in achieving their respective goals.

Gasoline has a score of 100, while ethanol has a score of 55.

No, it’s not necessary to wait. The GREET model undergoes occasional minimal changes, and since TopSoil utilizes the actual GREET model, any updates can be readily incorporated. Your CI score, if purchased today, will automatically be updated in your TopSoil account whenever adjustments or calculations reflect the latest information.

In our system, the average score is 8. (as of January 9, 2024)

Getting started is easy with our dealer network and consultants available to assist you. Visit to begin the process.

Carbon intensity is the amount of energy that goes into every unit or every bushel of grain. The fertilizer, diesel fuel, and pesticides are just some of the inputs that go towards a Carbon Intensity Score.

The value is derived from the reduction in carbon intensity points. Each point lowered is worth approximately $0.054 (or 5.4 cents) per bushel. A free profile on TopSoil.Ag provides access to the CI calculator for precise calculations.

You want your Carbon Intensity (CI) Score to be as low as possible, with the goal of staying below the National Average of 29.1 to align with environmentally conscious practices.

The big drivers here are these new 45 Z tax credits and other low-carbon fuel initiatives like California. Farmers should also pay attention to biofuels and ethanol plants. Farmers need to understand their score because our score is part of that ethanol score.

There are the emerging 45Z tax credits and other initiatives promoting low-carbon fuels, such as those in California. Farmers must stay up to date on developments in biofuels and ethanol plants. Understanding their scores is crucial, as these scores play a pivotal role in shaping the overall ethanol score.

The High-Demand for Low CI Grain

Yes, across various industries, manufacturers are actively seeking to reduce their carbon footprints by utilizing low-carbon materials, including crops with low CI scores.

While there is a market for low-carbon grain, specific monetary values are pending IRS rules and regulations.

Biofuel companies are willing to pay more for crops with low carbon scores as they strive to achieve low carbon score goals for tax credits.

Absolutely! Whether your farm is small or large, technologically advanced or not, everyone will be required to provide data. Knowing your score empowers you to set prices rather than accepting them passively, ensuring that all farmers can take advantage of low-carbon intensity crops.

Low CI grains are crucial in various supply chains, including those for fuel and food. Many companies aim for low carbon footprint goals, driving the demand for low-carbon crops from farms.

Farmers are motivated to lower their CI scores by the prospect of 45Z Tax credits, which increase the value of their crops due to their low carbon biofuel content.

45Z Tax Credit

The 45Z tax credits, disclosed by the IRS, allow biofuel companies to offset prior year taxes, utilizing excess credits for amended returns and future offsets.

45Z is a federal tax credit designed for low-carbon transportation biofuel. To qualify, manufacturers must maintain a carbon intensity score below 50, and each point reduction earns an additional $0.02.

45Z enables biofuel companies to use scope 3 reductions to decrease their carbon impact, earning credits based on the points by which they lower their score.

If the crop has a lower carbon intensity score it will be worth more than if it had a higher score. Therefore you can sell your crop for more.

The 45Z tax credits, disclosed by the IRS, allow biofuel companies to offset prior year taxes, utilizing excess credits for amended returns and future offsets.

The 45Z program is a three-year initiative set to commence in 2025, offering tax credits to manufacturers for reducing their carbon footprint.