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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Laboratory for Agriculture and The Environment » Soil, Water & Air Resources Research » Research » Research Project #444734

Research Project: NRCS Climate Mitigation Outreach and Education

Location: Soil, Water & Air Resources Research

Project Number: 5030-21600-001-012-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2023
End Date: Sep 30, 2027

Reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, improve soil carbon, and increase GHG sequestration on working lands by supporting the awareness and implementation of agriculture and agroforestry practices. The ARS Midwest Climate Hub (MCH) and others will lead a phased approach to address the climate mitigation outreach and education needs of the cooperator. This agreement supports the work of other Climate Hubs to implement the objectives outlined below.

The MCH will work with cooperator in the region to help educate staff and develop information to support cooperator’s implementation of conservation practices that increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse emissions in agricultural production systems. The approach will be in three phases: Phase 1: In the initial phase, national and regional Hub staff will build upon the existing “Climate Conversations” program to develop a national framework that includes standard mechanisms for evaluation, shared key messages, and a toolkit of template materials for Climate Mitigation Conversations. These conversations will enhance climate literacy for cooperator staff and partners, offer a listening environment to gather questions and feedback, and foster discussion of how to accelerate the implementation of climate-smart practices. Hub staff will work with cooperator’s climate points of contact, Regional and State leaders, and Regional Hub co-leads to develop locally focused Climate Mitigation Conversations, assessing information regarding participant characteristics, climate, carbon, and GHG knowledge, and perceived challenges to implementing climate mitigation practices so that the Climate Mitigations Conversations effectively provide relevant information and resources. Phase 2: The development of a curated suite of decision support tools and technical guides will be informed by relevant state/territory and sector level information gathered from the Phase 1 engagements with cooperator leadership and field staff in the state-level Climate Mitigation Conversations. These engagements, and other sources, will help prioritize which conservation practices are in need to develop technical guides. In Phase 2, we will identify what specific types of information will be included as relevant to guide mitigation decisions in each state/territory. In some cases, specific tools and technical information may be relevant across several states, depending on the information available. Phase 3: Staff focused on mitigation strategies will build topical teams around a small set of specific common practices (e.g., cover crops, reduced and no-till management, nutrient management, grazing management, forest stand improvement, and other relevant conservation practices) in collaboration with ARS and other USDA agencies to synthesize regional GHG mitigation information linked with cooperator conservation practice standards and evaluate practice potential by region. These syntheses and regional summaries will be incorporated into the mitigation technical guides, mitigation climate conversations, and other materials as available. Ultimately, this information could be integrated into conservation practice standards and advance the suite of COMET tools.