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Providing New York Vegetable, Fruit and Dairy Farmers with Greenhouse Gas and Carbon Management Tools - Fruit Crops

Investigators
Lakso, Alan
Institutions
New York Agricultural Experiment Station
Start date
2010
End date
2013
Objective
The goals of the project are to provide NY apple and grape growers with sound estimates of their greenhouse gas and carbon management status in an easy to use form, either in print or in a web based system. This Geneva project deals with fruit crops in collaboration with an Ithaca project that deals with vegetables and field crops and dairy.

Specific objectives:

  1. Develop fact sheets on "Best Management Practices" for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sequestering carbon for vegetable, field and fruit crop, and dairy operations in New York State and the region.
  2. Develop low-cost approaches for strategic soil sampling and soil carbon assessment on vegetable, field and fruit crops
  3. Develop an interactive, educational web-based GHG and soil carbon auditing tool, fine-tuned for use by vegetable, field, and fruit crop, and dairy operations in New York State and the region.
  4. Identify key opportunities within the New York agriculture sector for GHG mitigation and carbon sequestration.
Relevance and Expected Outcomes or Impacts: New York vegetable, fruit and field crop and dairy farmers will be better educated and better informed regarding BMPs for GHG mitigation and soil carbon sequestration. Farmers will be better prepared for new energy and climate change policies that may affect them, including the possibility of carbon offset payments through emerging carbon markets. This project will provide fruit growers with needed information to document the C balance of their operations. This information may be critical to apply for C credits as currently as perennial fruit crop systems do not fit the thinking on C credits. New York State will be better poised to develop a state-wide plan for GHG mitigation within the agriculture sector and have better information on existing inventories and databases for state planning.

We will have an educational website and web-based tool to help individual farmers assess GHG emissions, energy efficiency, and BMPs for their operations. The entire Northeast region will benefit from our educational outreach on this topic. We will make an important contribution to advancing the science and methodology for low-cost soil carbon assessments, which could influence national and international standards for agriculture, forestry and other land uses in the carbon economy.

This projects addresses Agriculture and Food Systems Priority (1): minimize environmental impact and maintain profitability, and Natural Resources and Environment Priority (2): improve management for sustainable and compatible agricultural, natural resource, and energy systems.

More information
NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: State and national energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) policies to help mitigate GHG emissions and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil will impact agriculture in many ways, including creating a need for farm-level quantitative information regarding current emissions, soil carbon stocks, and the potential for mitigation. Farm best management practices (BMPs) for GHG mitigation and soil carbon sequestration include: improving farm energy efficiency, producing and/or using renewable energy sources, reducing tillage, improving nitrogen fertilizer and manure management, winter cover cropping, and modifying rotation crops and land use. Many of these options could increase farmer profits if properly implemented, could lead to a new source of revenues if carbon markets develop, and have environmental, food safety, and sustainability co-benefits. Growers in other states and countries are beginning to conduct environmental footprint studies to both understand and improve their environmental effects as well as to inform and assure their customers. Unfortunately, growers are currently limited in being able to document their environmental footprint for their operation due to the lack of data and knowledge specific to crops in NY climate and soils. We propose a comprehensive research and education outreach effort on important vegetable, field, and fruit crop and dairy industries of NY and the Northeast to provide: (1) BMP fact sheets for GHG mitigation and soil carbon sequestration; (2) reliable low-cost guidelines for monitoring and verification of soil carbon stocks; (3) interactive web-based GHG auditing tools ("carbon calculators") for use by farmers and Extension educators; and (4) a state-wide analysis to identify key opportunities for GHG and carbon sequestration within the New York agriculture sector. The methods will include extensive soil sampling and analyses and production system modeling to estimate the current status; compilation of data and comparison of methods to develop estimates of GHG emissions and C sequestration; development of a web site for farm C footprint calculations; and identification of opportunities to improve the C footprint of NY agriculture. New York vegetable, fruit and field crop and dairy farmers will be better educated and better informed regarding BMPs for GHG mitigation and soil carbon sequestration. Farmers will be better prepared for new energy and climate change policies that may affect them, including the possibility of carbon offset payments through emerging carbon markets. This project will provide fruit growers with needed information to document the C balance of their operations. This information may be critical to apply for C credits as currently as perennial fruit crop systems do not fit the thinking on C credits. New York State will be better poised to develop a state-wide plan for GHG mitigation within the agriculture sector and have better information on existing inventories and databases for state planning. We will have an educational website and web-based tool to help individual farmers assess GHG emissions, energy efficiency, and BMPs for their operations.

APPROACH: OBJECTIVE 1: BMP's - For each commodity area we will first conduct a thorough search of the peer-reviewed literature, technical reports, websites with documented sources, existing databases, and other sources. We will compile, evaluate, and prioritize the information based on credibility, relevance to New York conditions, and other criteria. Our BMP fact sheets will focus on reducing GHG emissions and enhancing carbon sequestration. Faculty, Extension staff and growers in each commodity area will provide input and feedback. The Geneva component will focus on apple and grape BMP fact sheets. OBJECTIVE 2: SOIL CARBON ASSESSMENT - Primarily led by Ithaca collaborators, we will identify key sites for soil monitoring withgeospatial databases for NY, USDA soil survey databases, STATSGO2 and SSURGO (USDA 1994; 1995), and land use and crop management data. Soil samples will in general be collected to a 60 cm depth in 20-cm increments and samples measured for: total carbon and nitrogen, active carbon, and soil organic carbon. The basic field sampling design will involve core sampling at the 3 corners of triangular "microsites". Other configurations will be evaluated for fruit crops due to the row/alley configuration. The sampling will include both in the weed-free zone under the vines or trees as well as in the alleyway between rows, with appropriate weighting for the relative area of each. OBJECTIVE 3: WEB-BASED GHG ACCOUNTING TOOLS - We will evaluate existing generic GHG accounting tools for their reliability and ease of use, and modify or redesign them for application to NY systems. Results from on-going research by other groups at Cornell and elsewhere in the state will utilized. We will also use our focus groups in each commodity area described in Objective 1 for feedback on the web-based tools. In year 3 partial support for a web developer in Ithaca will facilitate this aspect of the project. OBJECTIVE 4: GHG MITIGATION AND SOIL CARBON SEQUESTRATION - We will use geospatial data on soil characteristics, land use, cropping history, and management, as well as remote sensing data to begin identifying opportunities by commodity, region, soil type, management practice for mitigation and sequestration. Results from Objectives 1 - 3 will be integrated into this effort. The fruit component of this objective will be led by Geneva. Since perennial fruit crops sequester C in their structure and are highly manipulated, a particular focus will be to examine the relative role of the apple trees and grapevines in the whole system C sequestration and GHG emissions. Current models of carbon relations of apples and grapes responding to climate and specific cultural practices will examine NY weather and practices from the primary production areas for apples of the Lake Ontario Plain, the Hudson Valley and the Champlain Valley, and for grapes the Lake Erie Shore, the Finger Lakes, the Hudson Valley and eastern Long Island. In each case, several representative orchard/vineyard planting designs and cultural practices will be examined.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
NYG-632475
Accession number
224459
Categories
Parasites
Natural Toxins
Viruses and Prions
Bacterial Pathogens
Chemical Contaminants
Policy and Planning
Education and Training
Commodities
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