FFAR Grant Combats Climate Change Through Soil Health Practices



  • Soil Health

WASHINGTON (February 11, 2021)— Agriculture accounts for nearly ten percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the US. A shift in agricultural management practices can play a key role in mitigating climate change. The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $748,836 Seeding Solutions grant to the American Farmland Trust (AFT) to track various soil health practices using geospatial tools to determine which practices can best reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Hudson Carbon and Dagan both provided matching funds for a $1,513,612 total investment.

Farmers and ranchers are facing increasing challenges from climate change, such as more frequent droughts and flooding, which can devastate crops. Extreme weather imposes drastic changes that ultimately threaten food security. The future of sustainable food and agriculture relies on deploying climate-smart solutions. One such solution is sustaining soil health, which is crucial for enhancing the profitability of farmers and ranchers and reducing the impacts of climate change. Nationally, about 50-70 percent of soil is depleted. However, sustaining soil health provides a solution not only to reducing the impacts of climate change, but also enhancing the profitability of farmers and ranchers. 

The grant’s research team, led by AFT’s Climate Initiative Director, Dr. Jennifer Moore, is developing a data-driven decision platform that can be used at various capacities to analyze current global warming potential (GWP) for major agronomic systems with the ability to prioritize key areas within states or regions. The decision platform is being built by Dagan’s Operational Tillage Information System (OpTIS) and Denitrification-Decomposition (DNDC) modeling tools. Researchers are targeting four diverse farming systems cultivating a variety of crops, in locations across the country, to investigate the climate and ecological benefits of soil health best practices. To ensure best management practices, researchers are using local climate and soil information to develop a county-level baseline collection of GWP estimates for the top agronomic crops for several states in the Pacific, Northwest and Northeast. 

“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing farmers, ranchers and scientists today,” said FFAR Executive Director, Dr. Sally Rockey. “At FFAR, we believe that agriculture can be a solution to climate change. This project is an excellent example of how agricultural research can be leveraged to provide farmers with the tools and technologies they need to adapt soil health practices that are profitable and beneficial to the environment.”

“American Farmland Trust is honored to have the opportunity to do this work and grateful for the generous grant award provided by the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research along with major collaboration with Dagan, Inc., USDA-ARS and Hudson Carbon,” said Dr. Moore. "We are now at a turning point for elevating agriculture as a climate solution, policy avenues are open, farmers are buying in, but we need on-farm data that captures field conditions while providing robust, high quality, regional and crop-specific modeling data that demonstrates the climate mitigation potential of soil health management practices to drive large scale change. Integrating OpTIS and DNDC products in our platform will meet this need." Dr. Jennifer Moore
AFT Climate Director

Dagan, Inc. researchers are using satellite images (OpTIS)  and DNDCE climate models configured specifically for farmers and ranchers. These images and models will be used to promote best management practices that not only reduce threats of climate change but also improve water quality, crop productivity and the environment. The results of this research will provide climate-specific information on over 3.2 million acres of high-value specialty crops to equip farmers, crop advisors and policymakers with accurate scientific evidence that shows how agricultural management practices can play a significant role in reversing climate change.

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Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) builds public-private partnerships to fund bold research addressing big food and agriculture challenges. FFAR was established in the 2014 Farm Bill to increase public agriculture research investments, fill knowledge gaps and complement USDA’s research agenda. FFAR’s model matches federal funding from Congress with private funding, delivering a powerful return on taxpayer investment. Through collaboration and partnerships, FFAR advances actionable science benefiting farmers, consumers and the environment.

Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking

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