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Managing Farm & Forest Landscapes

Integrating climate mitigation with healthy air, clean water, and vibrant economies


Recent News:

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. <>

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 <>

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 NYs 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.


US Carbon Mapper
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: <>
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.
Bioenergy Feedstock Production in the NE: Land Use, Yields, and Sustainability. 9 April 2013




Soil Health Policy Brief  (as it relates to climate change)
Soil Health and Greenhouse Gases Fact Sheet
Soil Health and Greenhouse Gases In Depth Information Sheet
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.


Worksheets for Identifying Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Opportunities
These AEM Tier 2 GHG Mitigation Opportunity Worksheets are designed to be used in concert with the other relevant Tier 2 Assessment Worksheets ( 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.


Introduction to Farm & Forest Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Opportunities
Soil Carbon Management & Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Opportunities
Nitrogen Fertilizer Management & Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Opportunities
Dairy Manure Storage & Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Opportunities
Planning for Quantitative Methane Capture & Destruction from Liquid Dairy Manure Storage
Forest Management & Greenhouse Gas Mitigation
Energy Efficiency & Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Opportunities (by Deb Grantham)
Glossary of farm & forest GHG-related terms


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.



Renewable Fuels Roadmap and Sustainable Biomass Feedstock Supply for New York
Analysis of sustainable feedstock production potential in New York State_Appendix_E



Understanding Nutrient Cycling and Sediment Sources in the Upper Susquehanna River Basin




Tonitto C, Woodbury PB, Carter E. 2020. Predicting greenhouse gas benefits of improved nitrogen management in North American maize. Journal of Environmental Quality. <>


Sela S, Woodbury PB, Marjerison R, van Es HM. 2019. Towards applying N balance as a sustainability indicator for the US cornbelt: realistic achievable targets, spatio-temporal variability and policy implications. Environmental Research Letters 14:064015. <>
Wightman JL, Woodbury PB. Maximizing social benefit from finite energy resource allocation. Energy, Sustainability and Society. 2019 <>


Chapter 4: Biological Solutions. In: Aines, R., [et al.], Building a new carbon economy — an innovation plan. Carbon.  Zelikova, J., Tim Filley, David Babson, Sian Mooney, Amy Swan, Jason Funk, Rory Jacobson, Giana Amador, Drew Bennett, Charlotte Levy, Peter B. Woodbury, Jessica L. McCarty, Matchett, K., 2018. 180, Oakland, CA, pp. 33-50.
Improving water quality in the Chesapeake Bay using payments for ecosystem services for perennial biomass for bioenergy and biofuel production Woodbury PB, Kemanian AR, Jacobson M, Langholtz M. 2018.  Biomass and Bioenergy 114: 132-142.
Building a new carbon economy — an innovation plan. Zelikova, J., Tim Filley, David Babson, Sian Mooney, Amy Swan, Jason Funk, Rory Jacobson, Giana Amador, Drew Bennett, Charlotte Levy, Peter B. Woodbury, Jessica L. McCarty, Matchett, K., 2018. Chapter 4: Biological Solutions. In: Aines, R., [et al.], Building a new carbon economy — an innovation plan. Carbon180, Oakland, CA, pp. 33-50.
Natural Climate Solutions for the United States, Fargione et al., Sci. Adv. 2018; 4 : 1869 16 November 2018
Defining a best practice methodology for modeling the environmental performance of agriculture. Tonitto C, Woodbury PB, McLellan E. 2018. Environmental Science & Policy. 87: 64–73.
Dynamic model-based N management reduces surplus nitrogen and improves the environmental performance of corn production. Environmental Research Letters. 2018.
Agriculture can mitigate climate change at low cost to help meet Paris Agreement goalsBioScience June 2018.
The Nitrogen Balancing Act, Tracking the Environmental Performance of Food Production. February 2018.


Natural climate solutions, PNAS, September 2017
Effects of Transgenic Crops on the Environment  [Chapter in Environmental Pest Management: Challenges for Agronomists, Ecologists, Economists and Policymakers (eds. E. Wajnberg & M. Coll). Wiley. ISBN: 9781119255550].
Assessing soil carbon vulnerability in the Western USA by geospatial modeling of pyrogenic and particulate carbon stocks


New York Dairy Manure Management Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Mitigation Costs (1992–2022) New York Dairy Manure_SUPPLEMENT
Quantifying Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Agricultural and Forest Landscapes for Policy Development and Verification


Assessing Sustainable Bioenergy Feedstock Production Potentialby Integrated Geospatial Analysis of Land Use and Land Quality
Assessing Sustainable Bioenergy Feedstock Production Potential_SUPPLEMENT
Land Quality and Management Practices Strongly Affect Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Bioenergy Feedstocks
Untapped Potential: Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainable Bioenergy Production from Marginal Lands in the Northeast USA


 Reporting on Marginal Lands for BioenergyFeedstock Production: a Modest Proposal


 A watershed-scale goals approach to assessing and fundingwastewater infrastructure


Bank Erosion in Fifteen Tributaries in the Glaciated Upper Susquehanna Basin of New York and Pennsylvania
Local-Scale Carbon Budgets and Mitigation Opportunities for the Northeastern United States


Review of Methods for Developing Probabilistic Risk Assessments. Part 1: Modeling Fire
Review of Methods for Developing Regional Probabilistic Risk Assessments, Part 2: Modeling Invasive Plant, Insect, and Pathogen Species


Australian climate–carbon cycle feedback reduced by soil black carbon
Australian climate–carbon cycle feedback SUPPLEMENT


Effects of land use change on soil carbon cycling in the conterminous United States from 1900 to 2050
Carbon sequestration in the U.S. forest sector from 1990 to 2010
Land-Use Change and Stream Water Fluxes: Decadal Dynamics in Watershed Nitrate Exports
Variations in sediment sources and yields in the Finger Lakesand Catskills regions of New York


Land Use Change Effects on Forest Carbon Cycling Throughout the Southern United States


 Long-term nitrate export pattern from Hubbard Brook


How to Estimate Forest Carbon for Large Areas from Inventory Data


Do’s and dont’s of spatially explicit ecological risk assessment


Using the ECLPSS software environment to build a spatially explicit component-based model of ozone effects on forest ecosystems


 The Risks and Benefits of Genetically Modified Crops


Assessing potential climate change effects on loblolly pine growth
Gypsum application reduces selenium uptake by vegetation on coal ash landfill
Assessing trace element uptake by vegetation on a coal fly ash landfill
A review of selenium uptake, transformation, and accumulation by plants with particular reference to coal fly ash landfills
What materials should be composted
The Impact of Separation on Heavy Metal Contaminants in Municipal Solid Waste Composts
Chronic Ozone Exposure Increases the Susceptibility of Hybrid Populus to Disease Caused by Septoria Musiva
Trace elements in municipal solid waste composts
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