A web-based tool that allows users to visualize and quantify net greenhouse-gas emission reductions is now available from American Farmland Trust. Users of the CaRPE Tool can quantify the current use and impact of regenerative practices and estimate the potential to sequester more carbon if the practices are applied more broadly.
The tool expands the utility of data reported by COMET-Planner by layering cropland and grazing-land acres data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Data collection and maps will help stakeholders prioritize efforts for optimal climate benefits from agricultural management.
“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated we must harness natural solutions if we’re going to have any chance to reach the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord,” said Jen Moore-Kucera, climate-initiative director for American Farmland Trust. “Agriculture is a powerful natural solution. A first step in developing policies and programs to support the positive role agriculture can play in climate mitigation is to determine which practices offer the greatest net reduction in greenhouse gases.”
An estimated one-third of carbon in the atmosphere could be returned to the soil through aggressive adoption of regenerative-farming practices worldwide. The United States – with 10 percent of the planet’s arable land – can make a big difference.
Broader adoption of just two regenerative practices – cover crops and no-till – could reduce greenhouse-gas levels by 148 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalents per year. Full adoption could result in a reduction of 294 million tons. That’s the equivalent of removing 62.4 million cars from U.S. roadways, Moore-Kucera said.
In a demonstration of the tool focused on the Midwest, she found potential to sequester 12.5 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalents by increasing use of cover crops from 5 percent of available cropland to 34 percent. No-till and reduced-till in the Midwest already has a 71-percent adoption rate. That has resulted in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions of between 27 million metric tons and 32 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalents.
Thirty-percent cover-crop adoption is achievable. Across the New England region cover-crop adoption is conservatively about 22 percent and expanding. If an additional 25 percent of available cropland were planted to cover crops the region could reduce as much as 27,000 additional metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalents. In contrast to the Midwest, New England has only 45 percent of reported acres in reduced-till or no-till management. By about doubling the acres to no-till, greenhouse gases could be reduced by an additional 40,000 metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalents. Visit farmland.org/carpetool for more information.