Soil Carbon Monitoring Enhanced for Conservation Reserve Program

Brian German Agri-Business, Industry

With an investment of $10 million, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be bolstering monitoring efforts as part of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Acreage enrolled as part of the program will be sampled, measured, and monitored for soil carbon levels beginning sometime in the Fall. Three partners will be assisting with the implementation of the new monitoring initiative. CRP has been a critical program for farmers, ranchers, and foresters addressing the impacts of climate change. Three categories of CRP practices will be sampled and monitored for soil carbon through the initiative.

Soil Carbon

“These CRP Climate Change Mitigation Assessment Initiative projects will survey, sample and measure the climate benefits of land enrolled in CRP conservation practice types over time,” USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Zach Ducheneaux said in a press release. “This data will help USDA better target CRP practices to achieve continued climate wins across environmentally sensitive lands while strengthening our modeling and conservation planning resources for all producers.”    

The soil carbon monitoring projects will include a review of perennial grasses, trees, and wetlands. Michigan State University will be working with USDA in looking at soil carbon and bulk density of CRP grasslands across 600 sites nationally. Other partners include the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Deveron, and Woods End Laboratories. Other collaborators Mississippi State University and Alabama A&M University will be collecting information from 162 sites across seven states. The five-year project will document CRP-related benefits for soil and atmospheric carbon levels to better calibrate the DayCent model. Ducks Unlimited will also be collaborating with other partners to collect data on carbon levels in wetland soils at 250 sites across a 15-state area.

Each of the Climate Change Mitigation Assessment Initiative projects is being funded through FSA’s Monitoring, Assessment and Evaluation program. The overall effort is part of an expansive, long-term soil carbon monitoring initiative across U.S. farmland.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West