Alberta growers who satisfy fertilizer application protocols will qualify for greenhouse gas offset credits next year.
Clyde Graham, Canadian Fertilizer Institute vice-president of strategy and alliances, said farmers who follow 4R practices — right source, right time, right place and the right rate — can substantially mitigate nitrous oxide emissions from their land.
“Generally, if a farmer improves their best management practices when it comes to fertilizer use, our very conservative estimate is they can reduce their N2O (nitrous oxide) emissions by 15 to 25 percent,” Graham said in a statement.
The institute’s Farming 4R Land program, a sustainability initiative that encourages growers to adopt beneficial management practices around fertilizer, is now entering Phase 2.
The Climate Change and Emissions Management Corp., an Alberta nonprofit, has committed $252,500 to the second phase, in which the program will help implement Alberta’s Nitrous Oxide Emission Reduction Protocol (NERP) to allow farmers to qualify for carbon credits within the Alberta Offset System.
The first phase of the project focused mostly on education, providing farmers with information about NERP.
A CFI commissioned study indicated growers who adopted 4R practices under NERP improved net returns by $9 to $87 per acre.
“For a small farm, that might amount to $4,000 a year, “ Graham said.
“For a very large enterprise, it could be hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in improved net revenue.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website notes that nitrous oxide represents about five percent of American greenhouse gas emissions. The application of nitrogen fertilizer to U.S. soil is the major source of nitrous oxide emissions, representing 70 percent of total emissions.
The CFI project has set a goal to have “enough acreage qualified … to support offset transactions equal to 25,000 tonnes (carbon dioxide equivalent) by the end of 2014.”