Collectively, the Bay jurisdictions have committed to rotational grazing on over 1.2 million acres within the Bay watershed by 2025 to help achieve the nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution reductions called for under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load.  Adoption of this practice also builds soil health, sequesters carbon dioxide and reduces emissions of other greenhouse gases. Yet, despite these benefits, adoption of this practice is relatively low among producers.

This project will build upon ongoing efforts to promote grazing by developing a robust regional network of grazers in PA, VA and MD, quantifying the environmental and economic benefits of converting to a rotational grazing system, exploring related market-based opportunities for grazers (i.e., carbon and nutrient trading programs) and sharing this information via the network. Outreach activities will include hosting 2-day Grazing Schools and field days, developing an annual state-specific planning calendar for grazers, hosting a regional conference, developing a quarterly electronic grazing newsletter, and updating the “Amazing Grazing” Directory for direct marketing of grass fed products.   Water quality, greenhouse gas, soil health, and economic benefits of converting to rotational grazing will be quantified for 8 farms. Lastly, the project will identify factors that influence adoption of this practice and use this information to target additional farmers.

The project will quantify water quality benefits and the potential to generate nutrient credits with the Chesapeake Bay Nutrient Trading Tool (CBNTT). The CBNTT is a field-scale model for calculating on-farm nutrient and sediment loads that is currently being used or proposed for use in nutrient trading programs in MD and PA. Part of this project will also include revising this tool to make it more applicable to grazing systems.  Similarly, greenhouse gas (GHG) benefits will be quantified using A-MICROSCALE, an Excel-based calculation tool that is included in the American Carbon Registry GLLM Methodology. Assessment of the potential for carbon credits and leveraging private funds from the sale of the carbon offset credits is one innovative aspect of this project. Assessment of soil health parameters will include organic matter, active carbon, wet aggregate stability and water capacity. Economic analyses will include costs for feed, fertilizer, fuel, veterinary bills, income, milk production per cow, etc. Lastly, we will identify the factors that influence adoption of management-intensive grazing (MIG) and use this information to predict the likely level of adoption in the Bay watershed and to target additional farmers.

Key Project Elements

Project Location: Select counties in MD, VA and PA
Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHGe) Reduction Goal: We do not have a goal for GHG emissions reductions, but rather hope the pilot farms will serve as case studies about the potential emission reductions.
Emission Source Targeted: Livestock farms mostly dairy and beef
GHGe Quantification Method:  Using A-MICROSCALE, an Excel-based calculation tool that is included in the American Carbon Registry Methodology for Grazing Land and Livestock Management (GLLM). The methodology focuses on five primary greenhouse gas sources, sinks and reservoirs (SSRs): enteric methane, manure methane and nitrous oxide, nitrous oxide from fertilizer use, fossil fuel emissions, and biotic sequestration in above- and below-ground biomass and soils. Grazing land and livestock management activities will affect one or more of these SSRs.
Engagement Level: 35 farmers converting 1,200 acres to more intensive grazing systems
Protocols/Methodologies Engaged: As noted above, the project will be using the ACR approved A-MICROSCALE to quantify greenhouse gas emissions before and after conversion to more intensive grazing system.

Project Summary

This project will build on ongoing efforts to promote rotational grazing in the Chesapeake Bay watershed by developing a robust regional network of grazers in PA, VA and MD, quantifying the environmental and economic benefits of converting to a rotational grazing system, exploring related market-based opportunities for grazers (i.e., carbon and nutrient trading programs) and sharing this information via the network.