The Climate Change Program Office of the USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist this week released a draft report outlining scientific methods for measuring greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) – and carbon storage – on entities such as farms and ranches. The report, titled “Science-Based Methods for Entity-Scale Quantification of Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks from Agriculture and Forestry Practices,” is available online and open for public comment.

USDA invites public comments on climate reportThe objective of the report is to “create a standard set of GHG estimation methods for use by USDA,

landowners, and other stakeholders to assist them in evaluating the GHG impacts of their management decisions. The methods presented in the Report address GHG emissions and carbon sequestration for the entire entity or operation, and also provide the opportunity to assess individual practices or management decisions.”

 Thirty-eight scientists from across academia, USDA and the federal government, experts in GHG estimation in the cropland, grazing land, livestock and forest management sectors contributed to the report, which underwent technical review by an additional 29 scientists.

Much of the report is highly technical, but it includes extensive reviews of research on the sources of GHG emissions on farms and ranches, variables involved in emission levels and various methods for measuring emissions at the farm or ranch level.

The information is of interest to producers and industry stakeholders in that the recommended methods could come into play on agricultural operations. The authors state “this Report will be used within the Department and by farmers, ranchers, and forest‐land owners,and will be made publicly available.” Specific potential uses of the methods include aiding:

  1. Landowners and other stakeholders in quantifying increases and decreases in GHG emissions and carbon sequestration associated with changes in land management;
  2. USDA in assessing GHG and carbon sequestration increases and decreases resulting from current and future conservation programs and practices; and
  3. USDA and others in evaluating and improving national and regional GHG inventory efforts.

Read the full report from USDA.

File a comment on the report. The comment period is open for 45 days.