- Agronomic: barley, corn, oats, potatoes, grass (misc. perennial), hay
- Fruits: apples, berries (other), berries (blueberries), berries (strawberries)
- Additional Plants: native plants
- Animals: bovine, poultry
- Animal Products: dairy
- Animal Production: feed additives, feed formulation, feed rations, grazing management, manure management, pasture fertility, pasture renovation, range improvement, grazing - rotational, stocking rate, feed/forage
- Crop Production: conservation tillage
- Education and Training: decision support system, focus group, workshop
- Energy: bioenergy and biofuels, energy conservation/efficiency, energy use, solar energy, wind power
- Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, budgets/cost and returns, value added
- Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management
- Soil Management: green manures, soil analysis, composting, organic matter, soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures
Agriculture greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) include nitrous oxide (68%) from soil management activities, methane from enteric fermentation (25%), manure management (8%), and carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use, totaling 6.1% of U.S. GHG emissions (1). These emissions contribute to overall climate change and reduction may help slow the impact change will inevitably have on agriculture (2,3). Agriculture has the potential to immediately reduce individual farm emissions and to sequester more carbon that will help offset the emissions of others. Focus on GHG reduction by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may result in the regulation of agricultural emissions (4). Regardless of regulation, reduction in emissions and increase in carbon sequestration ultimately will increase agricultural sustainability, while improving the environment. Agricultural professionals need to increase their knowledge of emissions reduction management practices and the benefits of implementation so they can provide pertinent assistance to farmers. Collaborators are developing guidelines for management practices that reduce agricultural GHG emissions, increase carbon sequestration and are practical for Maine farms. For instance, a change in feed can reduce methane emissions from cattle, a change in fertilizer application can reduce nitrous oxide emissions (and reduce operating costs) and conservation tillage can increase carbon sequestration and reduce operating costs (5). Though the group is focusing on practices that will work on Maine farms, most will be applicable to other New England states with similar farms, practices and climate. Two workshops/webinars will be held. The first will provide training in the use of the completed guidelines, practices that reduce emissions, resource availability and assessment of the farm to best serve the farmer. The second will provide updates, assess and verify success of the program and determine the need for improvements. Tools provided will include materials developed by the collaborators, including a “whole farm” assessment tool, and current information, such as fact sheets published by the SARE funded project “Climate Change and Agriculture: Promoting Practical and Profitable Responses”. The training and tools will facilitate dissemination of information to the farmer and an initial “whole farm” assessment, targeting and prioritizing practices that have the potential to yield the most benefit.
Performance targets from proposal:
35 professionals, representing Cooperative Extension, Conservation Districts, Agribusiness, State and Federal agencies, and others, will increase their knowledge of practices that reduce agricultural emissions and/or increase carbon sequestration. Of these participants, 30 will provide information to 1500 farmers through websites, newsletters and meetings. 15 will provide direct assistance and an initial “whole farm” GHG emissions assessment to at least one farmer each, resulting in 7 farms implementing at least one change that will reduce emissions and/or increase carbon sequestration.