The project will follow two major work streams: infrastructure and implementation.  The infrastructure work stream aims to undertake data flow and economic cost-benefit analyses to identify the data infrastructure needs when looking to connect data collection mechanisms to data analysis tools and carbon quantification models to protocols. The CIG team will identify cost-effective solutions for growers interested in participating in carbon markets for nitrogen (N) fertilizer efficiency.  Additionally, project partners will contribute to the refinement of at least one current voluntary protocol and the development of a California Air Resources Board protocol. The infrastructure work stream efforts will streamline the process of generating agricultural carbon credits and reduce barriers to entry. This project will also facilitate the next generation of environmental markets by supporting the refinement of N-fertilizer management GHG protocols and the development of innovative quantification tools.

The implementation work stream includes a demonstration project with 30 participants on 75,000 acres. EDF and our partners will create outreach documentation and conduct training sessions for both growers and their trusted advisors. Partnerships with these pilot producers will demonstrate and quantify how almond and corn growers can increase fertilizer use efficiency by optimizing nitrogen applications, thus reducing N losses to air and water.

This CIG builds off of the efforts of previous CIG projects investigating and implementing incentives for nitrogen fertilizer optimization.

Key Project Elements

Project Location: Midwestern United States and California
Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHGe) Reduction Goal: 25,000 tons of CO2e
Emission Source Targeted: N2O emissions from sub-optimal nitrogen fertilizer applications
GHG Quantification Method and Protocols/Methodologies Engaged:
Data availability will determine which quantification method and model are used for Midwestern corn.  Options include:

  • American Carbon Registry’s Methodology for N2O Emission Reductions through Changes in Fertilizer Management (version 2.0)
  • American Carbon Registry’s Methodology for Quantifying Nitrous Oxide (N2O) Emissions Reductions from Reduced Use of Nitrogen Fertilizer on Agricultural Crops (version 1.0)
  • Climate Action Reserve’s Nitrogen Management Project Protocol (version 1.1)
  • Verified Carbon Standard’s Quantifying N2O Emissions Reductions in Agricultural Crops through Nitrogen Fertilizer Rate Reduction (version 1.1)

The DeNitirification-DeComposition (DNDC) biogeochemical model will be used for California almonds and any necessary module changes will be made to American Carbon Registry’s Methodology for N2O Emission Reductions through Changes in Fertilizer Management (version 2.0).

Project partners intend to work with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) on the development of an overarching Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Protocol that will likely include aspects of the above voluntary protocols. The model acceptable to CARB for this protocol has not yet been determined.

Engagement Level: Outreach will be conducted to reach 300,000 acres
Crop(s) Targeted: Corn and almonds

Project Summary

The project aims to reduce nitrous oxide emissions and nitrate leaching from agriculture by incentivizing optimized nitrogen fertilizer applications by helping farmers participate in environmental markets and earn revenue for the environmental benefits they create.