What I’ve learned so far

What I’ve learned so far…

When a person starts a role in a specific area that they haven’t previously worked in, they know they’re signing up to drink from the proverbial firehose. This was me in August when I started here at Collective Impact Carbon and I must tell you, that type of learning has always excited me. The idea of being able to just be truly curious, immerse yourself in as many conversations as possible, ask a multitude of questions and then just listen and learn is addicting to me. The more I truly listen to what’s being said, what’s not being said and then understand the “why”, the more questions I have and the more I want to learn.  This in itself has been a learning journey for me, having at times started a new role and been too excited to make things happen, prior to taking the time to listen and understand. Now fast forward through almost exactly 4 months of learning to December, I wanted to take some time to write a blog on what I’ve learned and what we at Collective Impact Carbon are creating around that learning. Here are three areas that I’d like to discuss:

  • Carbon is one small word with a massive and still evolving definition. As much as it’s been discussed for years, there is still a lot of that definition to be written. Admittedly, prior to starting this role, the word carbon to me meant emissions. However, I now understand that not only does it involve emissions, its also involves soil health, water quality, efficiently growing crops and raising livestock. These are all things that producers and the ag industry have held as core values forever. Yet at times, people often get hung up on and dig their heels in when they hear that one word…. I have learned to look beyond that word and remember the principals behind it. With that in mind, we’re building practical programs with companies to create value for the organizations that we are working with, as well as the producers who are implementing them. We want programs that make sense and cents for all involved, so that the word “carbon” is not a negative term, but the beginning of a much larger discussion.
  • Having met with producers from across the prairies and learning about the changes they are making on their farm; I now understand that the above-mentioned principals mean different things to different producers. From growing a cover crop in the fall in order to still have a living root and improve soil health, to trying no till in areas that traditionally have had multiple tillage passes, to fertilizer reduction in lower potential production areas.  I was even on a farm that was doing variable rate solid cattle manure spreading, which I wasn’t even aware was an option. There isn’t just one thing that a producer can or should do, there are several things that can be tried, as every farm and for that matter quarter section of land is different. So, I have learned that these changes can be incremental, and you don’t have to throw everything that you’ve always done out the window… just start somewhere and if you have already started, continue to build on what you’ve done. With that in mind, we are building and working on programs that are diverse, so that regardless of the changes you’re wanting to make, there is a sustainability focused program to work with you on making those desired changes.
  • Lastly and for me, maybe the most important thing I’ve learned is, the horse has left the barn. These conversations and the focus around carbon will not be going away. Governments across the world could change tomorrow and this will continue to be a focus in agriculture. Like any change, we all have a choice to be a part of it, help shape it and educate on what’s already been tried and accomplished. Then ultimately, lead the change, so that it makes sense not only for the land, water and air, but also economical sense for your business. The alternative is to ignore the change, hope it goes away and likely in the end let others impose the change on us, potentially at agriculture’s peril. At Collective Impact Carbon, agriculture isn’t just the area we work in, its our passion and lives. With that, we want to be at the forefront of this change, and we take pride in our ability to place ourselves in the shoes of individuals we work with, meaning both the companies creating the programs as well as producers that are in them. The more that we as an industry can learn, teach, try new things, capture the data from successes and learn from the failures, the less likely we are to have others impose changes on us. Based on that, we’re working hard to ensure those principals are represented in all that we do, so that programs are successful, for all involved.

For myself and others at Collective Impact Carbon, the learning continues as well as the conversations and planning that evolves based on those learnings. I can’t wait for the next conversation I get to have with a producer about what they’ve tried and the result or someone else in the ag industry about where they feel we should go from here. That’s where it all begins and how together we will make carbon make cents for everyone involved.

Kris Babbings

At Collective Impact Carbon, we are creating relationships and fostering the future of sustainability. Want to learn more? Contact us here.