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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: GRACENET: AN ASSESSMENT OF SOIL CARBON SEQUESTRATION AND GREENHOUSE GAS MITIGATION BY AGRICULTURAL MANAGEMENT
2007 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
1. Evaluate the soil C status and direction of change of soil C in existing typical and alternative agricultural systems.

2. Determine net GHG emission (CO2, CH4 and N2O) of current agricultural systems in existing typical and alternative agricultural systems.

3. Determine the environmental effects (water, air and soil quality) of the new agricultural systems developed to reduce GHG emission and increase soil C storage.

Note: All participating units will address Objective 1. Those units with the capacity to measure trace gases will also address Objective 2. While those with the capacity to measure other environmental parameters will also address Objective 3. Scenarios 1 and 2 correspond to Objective 1, Scenario 3 corresponds to Objective 2 and Scenario 4 corresponds to Objective 3.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
The GRACEnet experimental concept is based on four location-specific scenarios or treatments: What is the C accumulation rate under typical agricultural management practices? These business as usual systems should be economically viable or at least used by the majority of producers that are able to continue in production agriculture in that area of the country. Each unit will determine the number of sub-treatments it will research, since there may be many variations on typical practices within a geographic area. Maximizing C sequestration rate. What has to be done to achieve the highest rate of sequestration in that production system? These treatments may be either economically feasible or technically feasible. The only constraint is that they remain in a agriculturally feasible production system. Each unit will determine the number of sub treatments it will research, since there will be many variations on practices to potentially maximize C sequestration.

Minimizing net GHG emission: This system differs from #2 because N2O and CH4 emission must also be considered. How does this management scenario compare with #2? What is the sequestration rate and net GHG balance when all GHG emission are considered? Agriculture is the main source of N2O and CH4 to the atmosphere. Therefore, data will be collected by the units that have the capability and capacity to determine N2O and CH4 on the treatments under study in scenarios 1 and 2. Practices will be developed to decrease the emission of N2O and CH4. Each unit that addresses this scenario will determine the number of sub treatments it will research, since there will be many variations on practices to potentially maximize C sequestration.

Maximizing environmental benefits: Carbon sequestration may well become part of a larger conservation benefit package. Land managers and policy makers will be interested in tradeoffs among management options. With careful management, how can soil C sequestration and GHG emission be balanced with water quality, air quality, and soil quality goals? Units capable of evaluating environmental benefits and C sequestration will be encouraged both to study the individual issue or issues that they can address (water quality, air quality, or soil quality goals) and to collect data that may contribute information that is consistent with the needs of the ‘larger conservation benefit package’ that may be implemented by USDA or other action agencies.

Particpant CRIS #'s: 1265-21660-002-00D; 1275-11210-001-00D; 1265-12130-002-00D; 3625-11000-004-00D; 3645-11000-003-00D; 3640-12000-007-00D; 3602-12220-006-00D; 6420-12610-003-00D; 6420-11120-005-00D; 1915-62660-001-00D; 1902-13000-010-00D; 5407-12130-006-00D;1935-12000-010-00D; 5447-12620-002-00D; 5402-66000-005-00D;5402-11000-008-00L; 5409-11000-003-00D; 5440-12210-050-00D; 5445-11120-001-00D; 5436-13210-004-00D; 1932-12000-004-00D; 5358-21410-002-00D; 5368-12000-008-00D; 5354-21660-001-00D; 5356-12000-009-00D; 5247-11000-008-00D; 5348-11120-003-00D; 5342-13610-007-00D; 6615-11000-007-00D; 6657-12000-005-00D; 6602-13000-024-00D; 6612-11120-003-00D; 6208-12000-009-00D; 6206-11120-004-00D.


3.Progress Report
GRACEnet formalized: The Greenhouse gas Reduction through Carbon Enhancement network, which represents 60-plus ARS scientists at 30 locations across the United States following the same set of protocols, was formally recognized as a CLR (Cross Location Research project). The work plan, milestones and products were finalized during a planning workshop held at Fort Collins (Oct 2005). This network of research locations, works together to better characterize management practices that would limit greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. Information from this network approach will benefit policy makers, farmers, and all of society by maintaining a food production system that has less impact on the global atmosphere. This research contributes directly to the ARS Global Change Program National Program (NP-204); specifically contributing to the Carbon Cycle and Carbon Storage and Trace Gases Problem Areas and contributes to Soil Resource Management National Program (NP-202) Problem Area 3 (Soil Carbon).

NOTE: Scientific Publications: Log 115: Twenty four peer-reviewed journals and other (proceedings, book chapters, or abstracts) and an additional 5 popular press articles about GRACEnet and GRACEnet related activities have resulted. Publications are reported in ARIS by each of the individual locations under their own base CRIS’s rather than under this CRL CRIS.


4.Accomplishments
Market-based carbon trading based on GRACEnet results: Information from a GRACEnet article was used to develop a carbon credit program for the North Dakota Farmers Union (NDFU) in collaboration with the Chicago Climate Exchange.

Regional and national assessment: A Regional assessment of agriculture’s potential to mitigate greenhouse gas emission in North American was reviewed and the results reported in a special issue. This special issue provided a current evaluation of soil C sequestration and greenhouse gas emission from unique agricultural regions in North America.

Potential for soil organic carbon sequestration in cotton production systems reviewed. (1) Auburn University and the USDA-ARS in Watkinsville GA reviewed available literature on soil organic carbon sequestration in cotton production systems, (2) best management practices to sequester soil organic carbon were recommended, and (3) scenarios outlined for cotton producers to benefit from soil organic carbon sequestration.

GRACEnet database: The GRACEnet data repository entry template to establish soil carbon, gas flux, weather, and other data collected at more than 30 ARS units was developed using Microsoft EXCEL. Standardized reporting formats and measurement units were designated so that data from individual ARS locations can be readily compared and integrated. The database will allow accurate assessment of agricultural greenhouse gas emission, carbon sequestration potential of current and alternative management strategies; thus enabling development of guideline and policy to promote economical and environmentally sound management and policy.

ARS global change research in range and pasture lands summarized. A report on rangelands and pasturelands indicates that advances have been made regarding plant and soil responses to increasing atmospheric CO2 and land management practices:.
1) elevated CO2 levels can significantly impact rangeland plant communities, increase water use efficiency and reduce nitrogen content of the plant material;.
2) land management practices, such as grazing, fertilization, fire, and introduction of legumes and improved grass species can increase soil organic carbon storage in rangelands and pasturelands; and.
3)development of non-interference methods offers promise to monitor CH4 emission from isolated animals to large feedlots.

CQESTR Model Improvement:-- The CQESTR model was modified and recalibrated with selected data. Modification now allows CQESTR to utilize data for double-crop systems as opposed to the annual single-crop systems.

Use of EPIC model to compare carbon sequestration among management systems: EPIC model results for the field treatments predict carbon sequestration would be maximized either in an organic cropping system by using strip tillage with manure for fertility and a corn-soybean-wheat/alfalfa-alfalfa crop rotation, or in a conventional system by using the same rotation type with strip tillage and chemical fertilizers. Adoption of organic cropping system however, resulted in reduced crop yield. These simulations are consistent with other published results. This research lends support to selection of treatments for more monitoring, insuring limited resources are effectively used, and provides for extending field plot research findings to a broader scale.


5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
None.


6.Technology Transfer

Number of web sites managed1
Number of non-peer reviewed presentations and proceedings5

Last Modified: 12/18/2014
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