These state report briefs by American Farmland Trust (AFT) demonstrate the scale of potentially achievable reductions in estimated state-level greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for cropland and grazing land through the adoption of soil health management practices. They are intended to provide a snapshot of how much a state’s agricultural sector can contribute to state climate mitigation goals with a subset of practices. Accompanying these briefs is an updated Carbon Reduction Potential Evaluation Tool (CaRPE Tool™) and upcoming full reports that states can use to estimate climate mitigation potential from the agriculture sector. While the Michigan brief includes policy recommendations for the 2023 Farm Bill, the other briefs include state policy recommendations to support farmers and ranchers in increasing adoption of these practices.
AFT used CaRPE Tool™ to quantify GHG emission reductions resulting from the implementation of a suite of soil health practices on croplands and grazing lands. CaRPE Tool scales the emission reduction coefficients from COMET-Planner to the county level by coupling them with cropland and practice adoption acres from the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture. All values and climate benefits in the briefs are estimated values and should be used for general planning purposes only.
The soil health adoption scenario shown in a graph on page 1 of each brief is for an 80% adoption rate of each practice shown, i.e. on 80% of the cropland or pastureland acres, with the exception of pastureland/rangeland plantings, for which an adoption scenario of 20% of pastureland/rangeland in the state was used. Mulching was set to 80% adoption on specialty crop acres. We chose 80% to roughly correspond to the technology adoption curve, where innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority make up about 80% of the population, with laggards representing the remainder. Reaching 80% adoption will take strategic coordinated action and time. The practices shown can be implemented as systems on the same piece of cropland or pastureland, and already are adopted as such systems by soil health innovators. However, the synergistic benefits of combining practices into systems have not yet been fully quantified, so we are assuming that they are implemented successfully and that the carbon benefit (in the total tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents, CO2e) from these practices is additive in the estimates made for these briefs.
Please note these estimates do not include the significant potential to reduce nitrous oxide emissions from precision nitrogen management or methane emissions from livestock management. They also do not account for potential reductions due to biochar applications or other innovative practices that are ready to scale up but not currently in significant use. Such additional practices provide substantial climate mitigation, and we aim to develop estimation tools for them in the coming years.