New York Agriculture and Climate Change: Key Opportunities for Mitigation, Resilience, and Adaptation (Carbon Farming Report). May 2020
This white paper presents a scientifically based assessment of opportunities and barriers to support climate adaptation and mitigation practices on working NYS agricultural lands.
GHG Associated with New York State’s Natural and Working Lands Forests, Farms, and Wetlands. NYSERDA Report Number 20-06. February 2020
Agriculture was estimated to be an annual source of 8.38 MMt CO2e under ambient levels of sector activity. The largest agricultural GHG emission rates originated from enteric fermentation, manure management, and soil fertilizer production/use. Implementation of agricultural best management practices aimed at reducing GHG emissions, reductions in food waste, and reforestation of former agricultural land were determined to have the potential to mitigate more than the full extent of the agricultural GHG contribution (9.23 MMt CO2e per year).
Predicting greenhouse gas benefits of improved nitrogen management in North American maize. Tonitto et al. 2020. <https://acsess.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jeq2.20087>
ABSTRACT. Farmers, food supply companies, and policymakers need practical yet scientifically robust methods to quantify how improved nitrogen (N) fertilizer management can reduce nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. To meet this need, we developed an empirical model based on published field data for predicting N2O emission from rainfed maize (Zea mays L.) fields managed with inorganic N fertilizer in the United States and Canada. Nitrous oxide emissions ranged widely on an area basis (0.03–32.9 kg N ha−1 yr−1) and a yield‐scaled basis (0.006–4.8 kg N Mg−1 grain yr−1). We evaluated multiple modeling approaches and variables using three metrics of model fit (Akaike information criteria corrected for small sample sizes [AICc], RMSE, and R 2). Our model explains 32.8% of the total observed variation and 50% of observed site‐level variation. Soil clay content was very important for predicting N2O emission and predicting the change in N2O emission due to a change in N balance, with the addition of a clay fixed effect explaining 37% of site‐level variation. Sites with higher clay content showed greater reductions in N2O emission for a given reduction in N balance. Therefore, high‐clay sites are particularly important targets for reducing N2O emissions. Our linear mixed model is more suitable for predicting the effect of improved N management on N2O emission in maize fields than other published models because it (a) requires only input data readily available on working farms, (b) is derived from field observations, (c) correctly represents differences among sites using a mixed modeling approach, and (d) includes soil texture because it strongly influences N2O emissions.
Towards applying N balance as a sustainability indicator for the US cornbelt: realistic achievable targets, spatio-temporal variability and policy implications. Sela et al., Environmental Research Letters . 2019
ABSTRACT: Gains in nitrogen use efficiency in the production of corn (Zea mays L.) remain low due to management constraints and difficulties in accurately predicting the optimum fertilizer application rate. Retailers and consumers are looking for robust sustainability indicators to help drive the industry towards more sustainable food production, including the simple input-output based ‘N balance’ metric. Seven-year simulations for 25 locations across five US Corn Belt States (NE, IA, MN, IL, IN) were conducted using the biogeochemical Adapt-N® model to determine (i) realistically achievable N balance values when N rates are optimized, (ii) the effects of climate and soil type on achievable N balance values, and (iii) the relative importance of N application timing (fall, spring, split in-season) and formulation (+/− nitrapyrin) in reducing N balance. Split in-season applications reduced N rates by 39% and 22% over fall and spring applications and N balance by 36% and 22%, respectively. Adding nitrapyrin to fall or spring preplant applications modestly reduced N inputs by 9% and 4% and N balance by 18% and 12%. Split N management reduced N losses by 52% and 31% of total area-scaled N losses compared to fall and spring N applications and adding nitrapyrin by 13% and 10%, respectively. Benefits from improved timing and formulation were greater in the more humid eastern part of the region. Split in-season N management allows farmers to reach sustainable N balance levels in 88% of cases, with the remainder mostly affected by mid-season droughts. Economic assessment found partial profit to be enhanced with lower N balance, suggesting that N balance reductions may be achieved through voluntary approaches. The model simulations offered ranges of realistic N balance values that can be used to inform policy discussions. It appears that N balance is best applied when averaged over multiple seasons and threshold levels should be guided by characteristics of the production environment, including soil type and climate.
Maximizing social benefit from finite energy resource allocation. Energy, Sustainability and Society. Wightman & Woodbury. 2019 <https://rdcu.be/bMngf>
ABSTRACT: This paper presents a methodology for evaluating whole system effectiveness from a finite unit of biomass feedstock. By analyzing conversion of raw energy inputs into final energy services (FES) delivered in the form of transport or heat to society, we assess the FES returned on energy investment (ERoEIfes). Comparison of ERoEIfes across 11 different conversion pathways illustrates the relative delivered social benefit of each pathway derived from the same finite feedstock. We found previously that New York (NY) could sustainably produce 14.2 Tg/y of biomass feedstocks from agriculture and forestry (equivalent to 7% of NY’s primary energy consumption of 3.9 EJ). We found that high value FES as a percentage of energy in the biomass feedstock ranged from 5 to 15% for transport and 12 to 71% for heat (residential or commercial). However, the FES provided for six pathways was more than 2-fold higher if co-products were used. This method (1) internalizes energetic processing and use losses (2) to compare pathways and systems (3) that maximize services and value derived from land-limited sustainably harvested resources (4) thus providing a holistic approach increasing the value of a unit of land to generate primary energy resources, sustainably. This case study provides a framework to assess a range of conversion pathways for any finite energy feedstock for society. Across all biomass types and conversion processes, the replicable ERoEIfes methodology provides a foundation for decision-makers to compare FES delivered and then develop policies that reap the most benefit per unit of finite feedstock, thus assisting in more effective transition away from fossil-based feedstocks.
Natural Climate Solutions for the United States, Fargione et al., Sci. Adv. 2018; 4 : 1869 16 November 2018
ABSTRACT: Limiting climate warming to <2°C requires increased mitigation efforts, including land stewardship, whose potential in the United States is poorly understood. We quantified the potential of natural climate solutions (NCSs)—21 conservation, restoration, and improved land management interventions on natural and agricultural lands—to increase carbon storage and avoid greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. We found a maximum potential of 1.3 (0.8 to 1.7) Pg CO2e year−1, the equivalent of 22% of current net annual emissions of the United States. At current carbon market prices (USD 10 per Mg CO2e), 299 Tg CO2e year−1 could be achieved. NCS would also provide air and water filtration, flood control, soil health, wildlife habitat, and climate resilience benefits.
Natural climate solutions (or NCS) are proven ways of storing and reducing carbon emissions in the world’s forests, grasslands and wetlands.
Scientists Lay Out 20 Natural Solutions to Curb Climate Change, Newsweek, November 2017
ABSTRACT: “Natural climate solutions” could help the world reach the goals of the Paris climate agreement—which include keeping the world’s temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. There are 20 conservation, restoration and land management actions that could help, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. By increasing how much carbon the land can store through absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, these steps could provide 37 percent of carbon dioxide mitigation necessary through 2030.
New York Soil Health Researcher Highlight: Peter Woodbury Greenhouse Gases. Short video published by the New York Soil Health Initiative. 25 March 2019. Video available: <https://youtu.be/mlZjAbu5n6U>
What is the potential for increased grazing, hay, forage, and livestock production on New York’s idle lands? Soil and Crop Sciences Seminar Series, 28 February, 2019, Cornell University, Woodbury PB, Baker M, Gabriel A
Soil Health and Climate Change. 18 July 2018. JL Wightman and PB Woodbury, Soil Health Summit, Albany NY.
Dairy Manure Storage – GHG mitigation and adaptation to build farm resiliency, 18 March 2018. JL Wightman and PB Woodbury, audio file, proccedings of NE Climate Hub meeting, Rutgers University, NJ
Ecosystem service payments for switchgrass production could improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. Woodbury PB, 14 March, 2017.
Counting Carbon in Bioenergy Systems: Opportunities and Challenges. Woodbury PB. Invited national presentation in the Clean Power Plan. 9 February, 2016.
Marginal Lands and Bioenergy. Richards B, Woodbury PB, Hansen J (all co-presenters). 11 November 2014.
New York Soil Health Roadmap. 40 p.Wolfe D, Albrecht G, Aller D, Benner R, Branton D, Courtens J-P, Grusenmeyer D, Hanchar J, Henderson E, Mason C, Ristow A, Ryan M, Salon P, Suarez J, van Es H, Woodbury P, Bittner J, Bjorkman T, Czymmek K, DeGolyer D, Haight D, Ivy A, Joyce M, Kirby D, Knight L, Latessa S, Magos D, O’Neil K, Peck G, Porter R, Rangarajan A, Reiss E, van Almelo J, Wightman J, Williams J. 2019. New York Soil Health Initiative & Cornell University.
These AEM Tier 2 GHG Mitigation Opportunity Worksheets are designed to be used in concert with the other relevant Tier 2 Assessment Worksheets (www.agriculture.ny.gov/SoilWater/aem/techtools.html) for educators and farmers to gauge management and encourage discussion across a range of resources, including water quality, GHGs, farm productivity, and adaptation. Please see Relevant Information Sheets just below.
Carbon and Communities: Linking Carbon Science with Public Policy and Resource Management in the Northeastern United States
New York Agriculture and Climate Change: Key Opportunities for Mitigation, Resilience, and Adaptation(NYS Carbon Farming Report). May 2020.
GHG Associated with NYSs Natural and Working Lands Forests Farms and Wetlands. February 2020. NYSERDA Report Number 20-06. Prepared by E&S Environmental Chemistry, Inc., Corvallis, OR. nyserda.ny.gov/publications.