Monday, May 25, 2009

Land Management Practices for Carbon Credits

Land management practices are spelled out for farmers wanting to sell carbon credits based on soil carbon, in the Draft Agricultural Soil Credit Standard to be submitted to the US Government by the Iowa and Illinois Corn Growers Associations.
Click here for access to a pdf copy of the Draft Standard.

Part D - Management Practices
Sec. 400 General.
Projects generating credits for sale or trade shall comply with the applicable provisions of this Part. Management practices shall result in additional soil carbon or emission reduction. The practices shall be maintained or improved throughout the duration of the contract to sell carbon credits.

Sec. 405 Credit and Reduction Practices.
The net greenhouse gas impact in a carbon credit or emission reduction method shall be less than the greenhouse gas impact in standard agricultural practices. The following baseline or business as usual practices listed in (a) shall be changed by using one or more method listed in (b), (c), (d), or (e) of this section.

(a) Baseline or business as usual includes:

(1) No soil management plan;
(2) No grazing plan for rangeland;
(3) No management plan for grassland;
(4) No nutrient management plan for crop, grassland, or rangeland to account for the
emission of GHGs; and
(5) No fuel use plan to reduce the quantity of petroleum-based fuels used.

(b) Cropping systems, including planted grassland or rangeland. Cropping systems shall reduce greenhouse gas impact by executing one or more of the following practices to sequester carbon in the soil:

(1) Reduction of soil disturbance when performing cropping activities such as no-till or
conservation tillage as defined by the current edition of the NRCS Handbook of
Conservation Practices;
(2) Modifying crop rotations to add biomass to the soil, including cover crops;
(3) Plantings crops that add carbon to the soil; and
(4) Any other practice or technology approved by the Agricultural Carbon Board that results
in additional carbon sequestration.

(c) Grazing Plan for Rangeland and Grassland. Grazing plans for rangeland and grassland shall increase carbon sequestration by increasing biomass from vegetation. All of the following requirements shall be met:

(1) Low-to-moderate grazing based on rainfall or irrigation;
(2) Seasonal rotation to increase vegetative production cycle; and
(3) Any other practice or technology that results in increased carbon sequestration in the plant material and the surrounding soil profile and that is approved by the Agricultural Carbon Board.
Note: The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Field Office Technical Guides publish
guidelines for managing the controlled harvest of vegetation with grazing animals. Stocking rates
and livestock distribution criteria are defined according to County and State in the NRCS
“Prescribed Grazing Specification” code. A formal grazing plan may be developed with the input of
NRCS, BLM, USFS other non-profit agencies or private rangeland consulting firms. Regardless of
the source of the grazing plan, it shall at a minimum adhere to NRCS standards.

(d) Nutrient Planning. Methods used to enhance soil fertility shall facilitate net reductions of GHG emissions into the environment compared to the baseline; a nutrient plan shall include at least one of the following:

(1) Reduction of the amount of fertilizer used and variable rate application;
(2) Selection and use of fertilizer that reduces emissions, such as slow release fertilizers
(nitrification inhibitors, and urease inhibitors);
(3) Crop rotations that add nutrients to the soil;
(4) Management of the timing, placement and method of application of nitrogen fertilizer
(including split applications and not using fall application);
(5) Use of organic nutrient sources; and
(6) Any other fertilization practice approved by the Agricultural Carbon Board that results in
net reductions of GHG emissions.

(e) Fuel use plan. Cultural practices shall reduce the amount of petroleum-based fuel. A fuel use plan shall include at least one of the following:

(1) Overall reduction of fuel use;
(2) Use of biological-based fuel such as ethanol or bio-diesel;
(3) Use of equipment that reduces GHG emissions;
(4) Any other fuel reduction or emission method approved by the Agricultural Carbon Board that result in reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

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