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How Does Manure Impact Soil Microbes & Soil Carbon Sequestration on Cropland & Pasture?

Animal manure can boost microbial activity in the soil. It's a good way to add nutrients, improve crop growth, and promote healthy soils when used correctly. Check out this article for resources!

Managing Dairy Cattle Rations to Reduce Nutrient Loss & Optimize Milk Production

Read on for principles, options, and management opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving water quality.

Can Dual-Use Cover Crops & No-Till Make Dairy Farming More Sustainable?

Cover crops can be useful tools to capture excess nutrients. So what happens on a no-till dairy farm when cover crops are left on the field?

Interpreting & Understanding a Dairy Farm’s Environmental Footprint Assessment

Say you're curious about measuring your dairy farm's emissions. An environmental footprint assessment is a great place to start.

Soils & Policy #3: Carbon Markets

Carbon markets have gotten a ton of buzz. From a policy perspective, what are the strengths, limitations, and opportunities for carbon markets in the U.S.?

Soils & Policy #2 : Direct Incentive Payments

Direct incentives are cash payments that can make it easier for growers to change their management practices. What are the strengths, limitations, and opportunities payment programs?

Can dietary supplements decrease enteric methane emissions?

Yup, you bet they can--by up to 30%. Check out the article for details about how they work.

What software quantifies dairy greenhouse gas emissions?

We've broken down where greenhouse gas comes from on the dairy; now, let's find out how we can measure GHGs.

Basic Principles for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions on Dairy Farms

Principles and strategies for reducing your on-farm greenhouse gas emissions, one small tweak at a time.

Where do greenhouse gases come from on dairy farms?

Enteric methane, manure, animal feed, and farm resources are the four big sources of on-farm GHG emissions. Read on to find out how emissions compare.

Manure to Renewable Natural Gas: The Economics of Anaerobic Digesters

Anaerobic digestion makes use of nutrients in manure and food waste, turning what could have ended up in a landfill into biogas that can provide electricity, natural gas, or even power for homes in nearby towns.

What is enteric methane?

Methane is a product of enteric fermentation in a ruminant animal's gut. Read on to find out why it's important, and ways we can reduce enteric methane to improve livestock production.

How does grazing livestock affect carbon cycling of a cropping system?

Introducing livestock in a cropping system creates more ways for carbon to flow and transform. Read on for a better understanding of just how livestock change soil carbon.

How do you manage dairy manure storage to reduce methane emissions?

Methane--a potent, short-lived greenhouse gas--is the major emission from dairy production, but manure management can help decrease the amount of methane from the farm. Dig deeper to find out how.

Soils & Policy #1: Soil Health Initiatives

Policies aimed at improving soil health have been on the books for decades. State-driven soil health initiatives are one that have helped preserve soil resources and sequestered carbon in the process. But what are their strengths, limitations, and future opportunities?

What You Feed Your Cows Impacts Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Dairy greenhouse gas emissions are driven by the production of feed and enteric emissions. Read on for some ways to improve greenhouse gas emissions through diet formulation and feed production changes.

What are the benefits of biological soil testing?

Biological soil testing--also called soil health assessment--is a great way to understand the whole soil ecosystem. Dig into the potential benefits of biological soil testing, including improved yield, reduced farm costs, and more!

Manure as Fertilizer: Can I decrease applied manure’s greenhouse gas emissions?

Learn about the different manure application techniques that can help you cut emissions while making the most of this abundant source of nutrients.

Can remote sensors measure soil carbon?

Not directly--you're still going to need field samples. But there are some ways that remote sensing can help with monitoring. Read on to find out how.

How do I conserve groundwater while irrigating?

Groundwater is a limited resource in many areas, and irrigation is key to grow a healthy crop. Here are five tips to make the most of limited water.

How do remote sensors work?

Remote sensing is a promising way to track all sorts of agricultural data. It's a useful tool for estimating yield, mapping boundaries, understanding soil types and properties, and giving early plant stress warnings. But how does it work?

What do microbes do in the soil?

Soil microbes decompose plant matter, help aggregate soil particles, cycle nutrients, and much more. Discover the seven functions of soil microbes: read on.

What can remote sensing tell you about your field?

Soil moisture, crop stress, nutrient deficiencies--you've got options! Check out all the different things you can learn about your field through remote sensing.

What are the potential ecosystem benefits of turfgrass?

Turfgrass is everywhere--is it providing benefits to the people who use it? Read on and discover all the potential upsides of turfgrass, including economic, environmental, and societal benefits.

How can I reduce turfgrass fertilization, mowing, irrigation, and pesticide use?

Homeowner, turfgrass professional, or turfgrass manager--we have tips to help you decrease turfgrass inputs while maintaining turfgrass quality and performance. Check it out!

Could worms help cut emissions from dairy waste?

Dairies produce 1.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the US, and manure ponds are a big part of it. Could running liquid dairy waste through worm beds help cut dairy emissions?

6 Ways to Cut Back on Greenhouse Gas while Cutting Your Grass

Lawns are everywhere--I bet you have one! Turfgrass, like all other plants, requires nutrients. And nitrogen fertilizers, lawn mowing, and other maintenance tasks can give off powerful greenhouse gases. Read on to learn how to cut greenhouse gas emissions from turfgrass systems.

Can growing cover crops in corn systems increase soil carbon?

If every hectare of land across the globe included cover crops, we could sequester up to 192 million US tons of carbon every year. How can we get there?

Can plant breeding help store more soil carbon?

Plant breeders have made incredible improvements to crops, from improving yield to boosting resilience and increasing pest resistance. But can plant breeding improve soil carbon storage?

How does compaction impact water availability for plants?

Soil compaction is the result of soil particles being squished closer together, reducing pore space and making it tougher for roots to grow and water to flow. Dig deeper into how compaction impacts water available for plant growth, and what you can do to prevent or fix it on your fields.

How do you measure soil water?

Understanding how water moves through your fields can give you great insights into how plants might fare during times of excess rainfall, drought, and everything in between. Read on and find out how to measure your field's soil water.

Cover Crop Benefits and Drawbacks when Water is Scarce

Growing cover crops can be a challenge in environments where growing seasons are shorter or water is less plentiful. But growers are seeing ecosystem service benefits using cover crops, and with some management changes, minimal drawbacks.

What is a carbon footprint?

From driving a car to buying groceries, many parts of our daily lives make up our carbon footprint. And the scope gets even bigger when you consider the carbon footprint of a whole organization.

What is a carbon offset?

We'd love to say it's possible to completely cut greenhouse gas emissions. But industries like transportation and manufacturing will always produce some amount of greenhouse gases. Offsets are one way to help.

How deep is organic carbon stored in the soil?

Changing management practices can help sequester carbon in the soil and improve overall soil health. But how deep does that organic carbon go?

How do data flow through agricultural carbon markets?

Think four major players: farmers, project developers, verifiers, and registries.

What makes a quality carbon credit?

Additional practices, permanence, verification, and registration. The perfect blend for a quality carbon credit!

What is additionality in a carbon market?

“Additionality” is a huge component of verifying whether a carbon market is creating quality credits. It’s asking, “Is this project sequestering carbon or decreasing emissions in a way that would not happen otherwise?”

How does weather impact soil carbon storage?

Adverse weather and extreme climatic events can hinder storage or even release large amounts of soil carbon.

Who earns carbon credits on rented land?

About 40% of all farmland in the contiguous U.S. is rented. So who owns carbon credits generated on that land, and how should owners and operators discuss entering a carbon program?

How does reducing tillage and adding cover crops impact farm income?

Changing practices might come with some changing expenses, but how do these practices impact farm income in the long term?

Can you adopt conservation practices and still make a profit?

Adopting cover crops and reduced or no-till can come with new expenses. But how do the on-farm economics really pan out?

What’s the difference between total soil carbon and soil organic carbon?

Total soil carbon includes both organic and inorganic carbon. Soil organic carbon includes the once-living matter from plants, dead leaves, roots, and soil microbes, while inorganic carbon is mineral-based and much less responsive to management.

What are Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions?

Owned, direct, indirect, energy, supply chains--what in the world counts as an emission for each scope?

How is soil carbon measured, reported, and verified?

Measuring, reporting, and verifying soil carbon requires accurate collection of soil data, reporting in standardized units, and third-party checks.

What are the drivers of soil organic carbon storage?

After adding additional plant matter to the soil, the biggest driver of storing soil organic carbon is the activity of microorganisms like bacteria and fungi, followed by soil texture.

How do cover crops sequester soil carbon?

Cover crops provide an additional source of biomass to the soil. More biomass means more opportunities to sequester carbon!

Which countries are using agricultural carbon markets?

Brazil, European countries, and the United States are among those focusing on agriculture’s role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sequestering carbon.

Who are the buyers of carbon credits?

Potential buyers of carbon and ecosystem service credits include any business, government, industry, or individual interested in decreasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

What are the differences between voluntary and compliance markets?

Both voluntary and compliance carbon markets are trying to do the same thing--generate and sell credible carbon credits. But key differences arise when buyers and sellers opt in compared to mandated systems.

How should you collect soil samples to calculate carbon stock?

Collect samples to measure organic carbon concentration, bulk density, and coarse fragments. Together, these three measures can help you accurately calculate soil carbon stock in your fields.

How do you calculate soil carbon stock?

Calculating soil organic carbon stock requires measures of soil organic carbon concentration of the soil, bulk density, and coarse fragment content.

Which agricultural practices sequester carbon at the lowest cost?

Implementing cover crops and moving to no-till can make the greatest impact at the lowest cost, although the amount of carbon sequestered or emissions reduced and cost of each practice varies by region.

What is the soil carbon pool?

A “carbon pool” is any part of the climate system with the capacity to store, accumulate, or release carbon, according to the European Union. The soil carbon pool includes all the carbon in the soil, but the size of the soil carbon pool can be changed depending on management.

What is agriculture’s role in global greenhouse gas emissions?

Agriculture is often cited as a primary source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but crop production and land use account for just over 13% of food-related GHG emissions globally. Altogether, food production in every stage accounts for 26% of global GHG emissions.

How does management impact soil health?

Healthy soils are teeming with life. Changing management practices to foster biological activity is the key to improving soil health.

What are ecosystem services?

The words “ecosystem services” capture all of those tangible and intangible ways in which human beings depend on, use, and benefit from the natural environment.

How much farmland is eligible for reduced tillage or no-till?

139 million acres of farmland in the US are still eligible to change crop production practices to reduce tillage, according to United States Department of Agriculture data from 2016.

How are carbon credits priced and sold?

Carbon credits in voluntary carbon markets are typically priced and sold by the market providers themselves. Like other consumer goods, prices for credits are influenced by supply and demand. As demand increases, so too could the average price paid per credit sold on the marketplace.

How much carbon can the soil sequester?

The soil’s potential carbon capacity depends on soil type, climate, and management practices. No two soils will sequester carbon at the same rate or in exactly the same amount—different producers need to implement different practices depending on their land.

What are the benefits of increasing agricultural soil carbon?

Increased soil water storage, improved biological activity, better soil aggregation, improved yield--these are just a few of the benefits of increasing agricultural soil carbon.

How does carbon cycle through agricultural systems?

Carbon cycles through agricultural systems through plant photosynthesis, biomass decomposition, and animal production, with opportunities to improve carbon sequestration at each point in the cycle.

How does crop management impact carbon sequestration?

Management practices either improve or set back soil carbon sequestration, beginning with the soil and moving through crop production.

Which practices reduce emissions and sequester carbon on the farm?

All aspects of crop production that involve keeping the soil covered, minimizing disturbance, and agronomic management can help sequester carbon and reduce emissions.

What is a carbon registry?

A carbon registry is the central component of a carbon market trade, positioned between projects that store or offset carbon and buyers that purchase carbon credits.

How do agricultural emissions compare to other sectors?

Compared to other sectors globally, food production (including retail, transport, processing, farming, and land use) accounts for 26% of all greenhouse gas emissions as of 2019.

What adds to agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in the US?

Soil management is responsible for over half the greenhouse gas emissions generated by agriculture in the United States. Enteric fermentation—or gases created by livestock digesting their food—account for another 27%, and manure management another 14%.

How does changing nitrogen management impact greenhouse gas emissions?

Making small tweaks to on-farm nitrogen use can make a big difference in greenhouse gas emissions, water quality, and crop production.

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