How much can farmers mitigate climate change?
People working on state climate action plans often ask, “I understand agriculture can contribute to climate change mitigation, but how much can it contribute in my state?” American Farmland Trust is working to answer this question by developing state reports and summaries that can be used to inform climate and agriculture policy at state and national levels.
The state briefs linked below provide estimates of potentially achievable carbon sequestration and emission reductions through farmer adoption of soil health practices based on the best nationally available data and science. Each two-page state summary is intended to help conservation and agriculture professionals, farmers, and ag policy makers assess and communicate about the potential for accelerating agricultural climate solutions in their state. Each state report brief will also have an accompanying full state report that documents more detailed methods and opportunities and highlights the potential of specific practices.
Each state report will have a detailed section on the methods, but here is a quick overview. The carbon estimates come from AFT and USDA ARS’s CaRPE Tool ™. CaRPE uses emission reduction coefficients (estimated CO2e per acre per year that is sequestered or emissions avoided compared to a baseline) that are specific to each of a suite of soil health practices and multi-county regions, as determined by the COMET-Planner tool (version 2.1). The emission reduction coefficients account for net soil carbon changes, CO2 emissions from liming, urea fertilization, and N2O emissions from soils (including fertilizers). CaRPE couples these coefficients with county-level practice adoption data (acres) from the USDA 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture to estimate the annual climate benefits achieved with current practice adoption. The emission reduction coefficient multiplied by a county’s practice adoption acres gives the emission reduction estimate per county.
CaRPE also uses these data to estimate potential carbon reductions and implementation costs if practices were adopted on remaining farmland acres that have not yet adopted these practices. This gives states a powerful tool for planning the costs of investments in soil health and the estimated carbon benefits of those investments.