NSAC's Blog

USDA Releases Farm Emissions Calculator

December 16, 2010

On Wednesday, December 15, USDA announced the release of an updated and expanded online tool to help producers estimate on-farm carbon emissions and sequestration associated with their farm management practices.

The COMET-VR 2.0 calculator, developed in collaboration with Colorado State University, can estimate the carbon sequestration and emission reductions associated with the implementation of conservation practices for cropland, pasture, rangeland, orchards and agroforestry, as well as changes to biomass and soil carbon stock over time.

This second edition of the tool can also estimate reductions in nitrous oxide emissions from agricultural practices that improve the efficiency of fertilizer and manure applications.

Estimates are made based on location (state and county), parcel size, surface soil texture, approximate historic land use changes, tillage and fertilization practices, future land management and carbon storage practices, and current fossil fuel electricity consumption.

We’d like your feedback on this tool.  Is it user-friendly?  Does it adequately account for the management practices employed on small and mid-sized farms?  Does it work well for diversified sustainable or organic production systems?  How could the tool be improved?

To try the COMET-VR 2.0 calculator, click here.  We encourage you to leave any feedback on the tool in the comments section of this blog entry.

Categories: Conservation, Energy & Environment, Organic

One response to “USDA Releases Farm Emissions Calculator”

  1. I started to play with this.. of a made up horticultural farm in the Bitterroot Valley…. the choices are constrained.. ie there are no options for horticultural crops… it assumes that horticultural crops essentially can’t even be grown in the Bitterroot. This is incredible given the current and rich history of horticultural production in the Bitterroot. Also, even if you stick with the “conventional” crops you are limited in the choices of crop rotations and the crops in the rotations you can choose.I had a very hard time to try and adjust my “manure” application levels (both historic and future) and was not allowed to only apply manure and hence no-option for organic production. Compost isn’t even mentioned as a possibility. The choices of tillage are no-till, reduced, intensive. There is really no explanation of what for instance is the difference between reduced and intensive.
    My play farm was a 20 acre parcel which was irrigated and my recent management (last 10 years) was a four year rotation of legume hay (they assume alfalfa or clover) followed by two years of oat production. When I switch my future management (next 10 years) to 4 years of legume hay followed by 2 years of winter wheat my carbon stock and emissions rose significantly….but if I would have statyed wit oats the model would predict about 3 tons a year of carbon sequestration per acre ….so what price of carbon would motivate me to keep with my oat rotation versu switching to winer wheat? Who knows…..