Digital Dirt

Regenerative agriculture restores the health of soils, offers additional revenue for farmers, and provides an opportunity to address climate change by storing enough carbon each year to meet 10% of the world’s Paris Climate Accord commitments.

Several public and private initiatives now encourage the adoption of carbon farming practices. But they all share a lack of a recognized methodology to sample and monitor soil carbon content over time. These data are critical for verifying practices and building markets for these services. To be successful, the collection and analysis of these data need to be simple, secure, cost-effective, and time-efficient.

Launched in 2020, Pecan Street’s Digital Dirt initiative is exploring new methods to accelerate market development for carbon farming through remote sensing technology, data integration, artificial intelligence and machine learning. We’ve teamed with leaders from Texas A&M University, Cornell University, Colorado State University, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), and the 4p1000 Initiative to address the biggest data gaps in the soil science field.

AI for Soil Carbon Monitoring and Verification Working Group

To help overcome these critical data and technology gaps, Pecan Street’s Digital Dirt Initiative convened an AI for Soil Carbon Monitoring and Verification Working Group in partnership with TACC. Leading soils scientists, advanced computing scientists, economists, and carbon offset market managers worked together through this initiative to identify specific data gaps and technology development opportunities that would unlock new markets and revenue opportunities for regenerative farming, and then identified AI approaches from other research domains that hold the potential to overcome these barriers.

The Working Group determined that developing open, benchmark datasets and model outputs will accelerate the development of reliable, low-cost tools for the estimation of soil carbon sequestration that can be deployed equitably across a wider array of farms. The result is a powerful climate solution that is good for our food and fiber production systems and our rural economy.

Digital Dirt Toolkit

The Working Group developed a Digital Dirt Toolkit that includes a Regenerative Agriculture R&D Roadmap that details their findings and determinations. Also included in the toolkit are the findings of a Farmer Survey and datasets available for download on Pecan Street’s Dataport.

  • Download the Roadmap (coming soon)
  • Download the Farmer Survey
  • Log in to Dataport to access the soils datasets

If you would like to join our efforts, please contact us, or download our Digital Dirt brief.


Launched by France at COP21, 4p1000 is the world’s primary convening body to accelerate soil carbon sequestration on farmlands. 4p1000 stands for ‘4 parts per thousand’, which represents the Consortium’s ultimate goal to increase carbon sequestered in cropland soils by 4%, or an annual growth rate of 0.4%, globally per year. Pecan Street is bringing our unique knowledge of climate impact data to bear in the consortium’s work and on the creation of measurement and verification solutions to accelerate innovation. We’re also helping bring in industry leaders to partner with the Consortium’s researchers, ensuring adoption and application of developed solutions as well as coordination between industry and academia.

The Soil & Climate Consortium

Initiated by Pecan Street, The Soil & Climate Consortium will convene leading U.S. soil scientists with innovative entrepreneurs and industry leaders to convert breakthroughs in soil science research into market solutions. Co-led by Cornell University and Colorado State University, we are currently completing the research timeline and rounding out membership in phase one of the Consortium.

Cleantech Acceleration

For the past three years, Pecan Street has worked with a leading group of investors and philanthropists to develop new investment tools and resources for cleantech start-ups. As a result, our team recently published a toolkit to help foundations understand their options for evaluating cleantech investment opportunities and to get more funding flowing into developing leapfrog clean energy solutions. Pecan Street is working with its network of financial and industry leaders to expand this work into Ag Tech acceleration.