Report aimed at helping farmers quantify greenhouse gas emissions

By Daniel Enoch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, July 31, 2014 - USDA today released a report that provides uniform scientific methods for quantifying changes in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and carbon storage from different land management and conservation activities.

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The 606-page report, titled “Quantifying Greenhouse Gas Fluxes in Agriculture and Forestry: Methods for Entity-Scale Inventory,” will help USDA evaluate greenhouse gas conservation programs, and develop new tools and update existing ones to help farmers and ranchers participate more easily in emerging carbon markets, USDA said.

 

“This represents an important step in the effort to integrate climate change into USDA activities,” said William Hohenstein, director of the department's Climate Change Program Office. The document will help farmers and ranchers “better manage greenhouse gas emissions the provide them with better information on how to increase carbon storage on farms,” he said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters.

Both Hohenstein and Robert Bonnie, USDA under secretary for natural resources and environment, acknowledged that most farmers and ranchers will find the report too technical to use without the help of agricultural consultants or government specialists. But Hohenstein said it may lead to the development of tools down the road that would ask farmers a series of questions about their operation, then provide estimates, improving upon the COMET-FARM tool currently in use.

In a news release, USDA noted that the department had recently created Regional Climate Change Hubs to help landowners with management challenges arising from climate change and weather extremes. The tools provided in the report will help the Hubs in giving landowners information on management options to improve soil health and yields, USDA said.

Authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, the report was produced by experts in GHG estimation in the cropland, grazing land, livestock and forest management sectors across academia, USDA and the federal government, the department said. In addition, it was reviewed by 29 scientists, other Federal experts, and the public before it was released.

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