The first agricultural greenhouse gas emissions offsets have been issued to a Michigan farmer for voluntarily reducing nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions by curbing the amount of nitrogen-based fertilizer used to grow corn, according to the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).
EPRI, in partnership with Michigan State University, developed the validation and verification methodology for the offsets, which farmers and agribusiness can sell to other carbon market participants to meet GHG emission reduction targets or to achieve corporate sustainability goals.
The American Carbon Registry issued the offsets, called Emission Reduction Tons. The Climate Trust, an Oregon-based nonprofit, purchased the offsets.
This also is the first offset project to be included in the new Nitrogen Credit Program created by the Delta Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to implementing market-driven solutions in the Great Lakes region. Working in partnership with The Climate Trust, the Delta Institute program uses the MSU-EPRI methodology across Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Nitrogen fertilizers represent one of the largest sources of GHG emissions from agricultural production, resulting in significant emissions of N2O, a GHG with approximately 300 times the global warming potential of CO2. In 2012, N2O emissions from cropland soils in the US were about 195 million metric tons of CO2e, according to the EPA’s 2014 National Greenhouse Gas Inventory.
Corn is among the most intensive uses of nitrogen fertilizer and a major agricultural-related N20 emissions producer in the US. The estimated technical potential of emission reductions using the MSU-EPRI methodology in the Midwest is about 6 million metric tons of CO2e per year, the organizations say.
The MSU-EPRI methodology, called Methodology for Quantifying Nitrous Oxide (N2O) Emissions Reductions from Reduced Use of Nitrogen Fertilizer on Agricultural Crops, has been approved by the American Carbon Registry, and a similar version has been approved by the Verified Carbon Standard.
Last week DuPont Pioneer announced a collaboration with eight Midwestern universities that centers on their nitrogen management practices to help growers more sustainably maximize crop yields.