2010, Emerging issues on agricultural and conservation
Emerging issues on agricultural and conservation for the 111th Congress. The climate change debate and use of ecosystem services markets has brought conservation to the forefront of discussion on the role of agriculture in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Also, the effect of ethanol production on natural resources and changes in land use is an ongoing concern in the area of biofuels policy. Other environmental issues for agriculture such as concentrated animal feeding operation regulations, greenhouse gas emission reporting for livestock producers, and wetlands mitigation could lead to expanded opportunities and challenges for many conservation efforts. Read More.
2010, Sec. Interior Ken Salazar
Tells CNBC that the administration will no longer use the term ‘cap and trade’ to describe climate change legislation.
2009, 11/5: The Kerry-Boxer Bill
The bill passes the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
2009, 10/10: The Kerry-Boxer Bill
Sen. Lindsay Graham announces that he will work with Sen. Kerry and others, including Sen. Lieberman, to create a bi-partisan climate change bill.
2009, Field and Farm-level Soil C and Greenhouse Gas Estimation: COMET2 and COMET-Farm
Background on soil C and GHG estimation
Greenhouse gas mitigation is now a ‘front-burner’ issue:
Attributes of an effective quantification system to support GHG mitigation
2008 - 12/10
Pres. Obama appoints Steven Chu as Energy Secretary and Lisa Jackson as head of the EPA.
2008 - 11/18
Pres-Elect Obama announces goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
2007, 5/21: Science Daily — Storing carbon in agricultural soils presents an immediate option to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide and slow global warming.
Source: American Society of Agronomy
Farmers who adopt practices that store carbon in soil may be able to "sell" the stored carbon to buyers seeking to offset greenhouse gas emissions. Before farmers can sell carbon credits, however, they need to be able to verify that changing soil management has increased the soil organic carbon (SOC) in their fields.
Researchers at Montana and Colorado State Universities now have evidence that a soil model can be used to accurately estimate carbon levels in soil under certain climate and land conditions. By using this model, farmers and landowners will be able to verify soil carbon change for carbon trading. Scientists report their findings on the reliability of the Century soil model in the May-June 2007 issue of the Soil Science Society of America Journal.
"The Century model estimates soil organic carbon content and soil organic carbon change using soil texture, weather, and farm management information," said Ross Bricklemyer, lead author of the study.
Working together with farmers from Montana, researchers compared Century model estimates of soil carbon storage to field SOC measurements. Scientists measured carbon storage and soil texture in 10 paired fields under no-till and conventional-till management. They estimated the increase in carbon stored under no-tillage adoption as the difference between carbon levels in no-till and till fields. They then compared the soil carbon values predicted by the Century model to measured SOC and SOC rate of change. The Century model accurately predicted SOC content and rate of carbon change, however, differences between measured soil texture data and state and county soil texture maps greatly influenced carbon storage estimates.
"The accuracy and scale of soil texture data highly influence the accuracy of Century model estimations of soil carbon," said Bricklemyer. "
The model accurately estimated soil carbon content and the influence soil clay content had on the amount of carbon in the soil.
Although texture was important in determining SOC storage estimates, the effect of no-tillage management on the rate of carbon storage was not influenced by texture in this study. Some scientists have found that high clay content, or heavy soils, store carbon more rapidly under no-tillage management than soils with little clay content, others have found that clay content has no affect on carbon storage rates under no-tillage practice.
Bricklemyer says that because the effects of clay content on the rate of soil carbon under no-tillage change are not well understood by the research community, clay content information was not directly used by the Century model for carbon change calculations.
"This study also points out the importance of establishing benchmark monitoring sites, under actual farm conditions, where soil texture, soil carbon and other soil properties can be accurately measured and re-measured over time," said Bricklemyer. "
Such a system, which currently doesn't exist in the U.S., would help us improve and validate estimates of carbon sequestration over time."
Funding for this research was provided by the Upper Midwest Aerospace Consortium-Public Access Resource Center, the Consortium for Agricultural Soils Mitigation of Greenhouse Gases, and the Montana State University Agricultural Experiment Station. Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by American Society of Agronomy.
2005, 3/23, WASHINGTON: USDA Carbon Management Tool to Help Farmers and Ranchers with Soil Carbon Sequestration
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Bruce Knight today announced the availability of the Voluntary Reporting of Greenhouse Gases-Carbon Management Evaluation Tool (COMET2) to help farmers and ranchers report the effectiveness of various methods for agricultural soil carbon sequestration.
The COMET2 model was released today in coordination with the Department of Energy’s release of interim final rules on the general and technical guidelines for the voluntary reporting of greenhouse gas emissions, sequestration and emission reductions.
“COMET2 gives us the ability to translate the President’s goal of an 18 percent voluntary reduction into something achievable for our nation’s farmers and ranchers,” said Knight. “In fact, farmers that either no-till or use conservation tillage and ranchers using grazing management practices provide a sink for carbon benefiting their farms and ranches and the environment as a whole.”
The concept of carbon sinks is based on the natural ability of trees, other plants and the soil to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store the carbon in wood, roots, leaves and the soil. COMET2 delivers an estimate of annual soil carbon fluxes along with fuel and fertilizer use, which can be reported to the §1605(b) voluntary reporting system. This tool can aide producers in making their management decisions. Producers insert their current and alternative farming and grazing practices into COMET2, which then estimates changes in fuel use, fertilizer and carbon storage from each alternative.
Knight noted, “While COMET2 has a great deal of potential for future management of farm greenhouse gas emissions, it also provides a valuable cost benefit to producers. With diesel prices around two dollars a gallon, COMET2 can help farmers and ranchers reduce fuel use and save significant amounts of money.”
President Bush charged the Department of Energy (DOE) with improving the current voluntary emission reduction registration program under section 1605(b) of the 1992 Energy Policy Act because of concerns with the growing threat of global climate change from increasing emissions of greenhouse gases. The President directed USDA to prepare the new accounting rules in the guidelines that will be used to estimate greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration from forestry and agricultural activities.
DOE is leading an interagency process—with stakeholder involvement—to enhance the accuracy, reliability and verifiability of emissions and emissions reductions data reported to DOE. DOE is seeking comment on the new guidelines during a 60-day public review period.
A field test of NRCS’ COMET2 was completed by individuals involved in crop production, livestock grazing and conservation planning from six states: Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, Texas and Wyoming.
The field test concluded that the web-based estimation tool is easily usable by individual farmers and ranchers with no training needed. The design of the tool is adequate to allow participants to complete an assessment of how their management decisions are affecting carbon sequestration and greenhouse gases. One improvement suggested by the field test was the addition of more sufficient crop rotations, which is being addressed by research at Colorado State University. COMET2 will have expanded rotations by late summer based on the National Resources Inventory data.
In addition, field test participants also have expressed a need that the text ought to be expanded to detail how management affects soil carbon change. This concern will be addressed once feedback from the general public is received as part of the Federal Register review process.
Two public workshops are planned to discuss these latest revisions to the 1605(b) guidelines. The first, to be held by DOE in late April, will address the full scope of issues raised by the guidelines. USDA and DOE will jointly host a workshop on May 5, 2005, that will focus on those issues raised by the agricultural and forestry sections of the guidelines.
More information on these workshops and on the guidelines is available at www.usda.gov/oce/gcpo/greenhousegasreporting.htm and
Additional information on COMET2 can be found at http://cometvr.colostate.edu/. For more information on NRCS and its programs, visit the web site at www.nrcs.usda.gov.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 02, 2012/7:35:10 PM