Large nonprofits, private and public lands can take advantage of new climate benefits offered by the USDA
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency today announced an initiative to measure the climate benefits of Conservation Reserve Program contracts. The agency said this multi-year effort will enable the USDA to better target CRP toward climate outcomes and improve existing models and conservation planning tools while increasing climate-smart solutions to address climate change.
“CRP is a powerful tool for implementing voluntary, measurable conservation outcomes to mitigate the impacts of climate change,” said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux in a release. “Nearly 21 million acres currently enrolled in the program prevent the equivalent of more than 12 million tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Further quantifying program benefits will allow us to better target CRP to achieve continued climate wins across environmentally sensitive lands while strengthening our modeling and conservation planning resources for all producers.”
CRP Monitoring, Assessment and Evaluation Projects
The agency will invest $10 million through the CRP program to measure and monitor the soil carbon sequestration and other climate and environmental benefits of conservation practices over the life of CRP contracts.
This data will allow USDA to target climate outcomes through CRP. One model the agency plans to use is the Daily Century Model, or DayCent, which simulates the movement of carbon and nitrogen through agricultural systems and informs the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory. Data will also be used to strengthen the COMET-Farm and COMET-Planner tools, which enable producers to evaluate potential carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emission reductions based on specific management scenarios.
CRP is one of the world’s largest voluntary conservation programs. The program helps preserve topsoil, sequester carbon, reduce nitrogen runoff and provide healthy habitat for wildlife.
In exchange for a yearly rental payment, agricultural producers enrolled in the program agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality.
Request for Proposals
In April, USDA announced updates to CRP including higher payment rates, new incentives for environmental practices and a more targeted focus on the program’s role in climate change mitigation. USDA is seeking proposals for projects to survey, sample and measure the climate benefits of land enrolled in the following CRP practice types over time:
-Predominately Perennial grass with legumes and shrubs
-Wetland, including both mineral and organic soils and both floodplain and non-floodplain wetlands
Projects should be a minimum of $1 million and not exceed $9 million and last for at least three years.
Applications are welcome from all types of organizations, including public, private and nonprofit institutions.
The deadline for proposals is July 2, 2021.