Soil captures carbon and keeps it where we can derive benefits from it, and out of the atmosphere where it acts as a greenhouse gas. Like any cycle, every individual item is important to the function of the whole. Healthy soil enables renewable, sustainable, carbon raw materials. Around our plant in Luverne, Minnesota, soil carbon is increasing as farmers use sustainable farming practices.
Carbon is building in the soil, while crops are being produced, and this is a key to our whole business model. We want the economy to function with links that reward farmers for improving the sustainability of growing crops and improving the land and ecosystems.
The business system has to value sustainability throughout the whole supply chain. Gevo is just one company, but we have the potential to make the connections happen and accelerate sustainable development of feedstocks that will drive our production and displace petro-based carbon.
When fossil-based oil, coal, and natural gas are the raw material, GHG increases. When renewable carbon, CO2 from the atmosphere, is a raw material, it’s possible to balance or even reverse GHG emissions across the carbon cycle by efficient production and carbon capture via sustainable farming. For example, using sustainable, non-food corn as the feedstock, it’s possible to capture anywhere from 0.8 to 4 kilograms of carbon dioxide in the soil for every gallon of jet fuel produced. As we change our energy sources from fossil based to renewable, it is possible to eliminate or even have negative carbon dioxide emissions across the cycle.
Increasing carbon sunk into soils offsets fossil fuels, but also increases feed and food production for our growing global population. We have the potential to store, in the Earth’s soil, an additional 1 billion to 3 billion tons of carbon annually. That’s equivalent to roughly 3.5 billion to 11 billion tons of CO2 emissions. Most of the biomass used to produce our Gevo biofuels comes from resources that are using low till and no till farming techniques that build soil organic carbon (SOC).