Climate warriors: Iowa farmers are joining new initiatives that pay them to battle climate change

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June 20, 2020
two handfuls of healthy soil from corn fields

WASHINGTON, Iowa — Mitchell Hora walks to a field on his family’s southeast Iowa farm, where 5-inch-high soybeans grow in alternating rows with 4-foot-tall cereal rye.

The 25-year-old admits that combining the two crops would make most farmers freak out.

“We’re harvesting rye with soybeans on the same acre,” Hora says. “We take a yield hit with both crops,” damaging some soybeans when the cereal rye is harvested in July. “But the combination of the two really pumps up soil health and really pumps up carbon sequestration.”

Hora and his father, Brian, hope the test will boost the farm’s bottom line, helping them earn more from emerging markets that pay farmers who adopt practices that store carbon, a major component of the greenhouse gases leading to global warming.