New Program Incentivizes Growers to Reduce Nitrogen and Measures the Resulting Environmental Impact
EMERYVILLE, Calif. (March 22, 2022) – Sound Agriculture and Shell New Energies US (Shell) have collaborated to launch a feasibility study to measure the economic and environmental impact of reducing agriculture-related nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. The program will be used to drive greater adoption of climate-smart practices and to identify opportunities to scale greenhouse gas (GHG) avoidance and related carbon credit potential.
Human-caused N2O emissions have increased 30% in the past 40 years, with fertilizer playing a major role. If the trend continues, it could impede the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, according to the Global Carbon Project’s N2O impact assessment. While the use of cover crops and reduced tillage has increased, nitrogen reduction practices, such as reducing fertilizer use, have not been widely adopted due to the economic risk associated with yield loss and the lack of data around carbon impact. Yet, 30 – 40% of applied nitrogen results in volatilization in the form of N2O, which is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. At the same time, fertilizer prices have increased 100 – 300% over the past year, so finding viable alternatives can benefit growers’ bottom line.
Growers involved in the pilot will leverage Sound Agriculture’s Performance Optimizer, an online tool that uses yield targets, nitrogen application rates, and soil data to identify where SOURCE®, the company’s microbiome activator, will work best in combination with nitrogen reduction. The company will remove risk by underwriting yield loss and their agronomists will provide technical assistance throughout the season. Shell will support the project through funding and technical expertise to improve N2O field sample monitoring and validation. Trimble and Viresco Solutions have joined them to support program design, data aggregation and validation to help quantify the crediting potential under different methodologies.
The program has the potential to enroll three million acres of farmland over the next several years, reducing up to 350,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year by 2027. The initiative aligns with the growing momentum for climate-friendly practices as demonstrated by the USDA’s recently announced Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program, which is offering $1 billion in funding for climate-smart production practices, activities and systems.
“We are always looking to impart farming practices that support sustainability, but they need to be financially feasible or our farm may be less competitive in the marketplace,” said Chase Larson, General Manager, Bestifor Farms in Kansas. “Reducing emissions is important, but until now, it’s been unclear if a change, such as reducing nitrogen-based fertilizers, would allow us to break even. By removing the financial risk, I’m eager to participate in the study and hopeful of the outcome.”
“This program was designed to incentivize growers to use nitrogen more efficiently in an effort to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, but also in a way that does not harm their bottom line,” said Adam Litle, CEO, Sound Agriculture. “At the same time, we want to identify ways to drive greater adoption of nitrogen reduction programs moving forward. We have the right team involved to make that happen and I’m looking forward to what we learn from the 2022 season.”
About Sound Agriculture
Sound Agriculture unlocks the natural power of plants to meet the demands for more diverse and nutritious food. Innovative, on-demand crop solutions allow agriculture to adapt faster to climate change and evolving consumer preferences, creating healthier food that is better for the planet. Products are designed to improve on-farm efficiency and create healthier, tastier, more sustainable food. SOURCE activates the microbiome to give crops access to more of the nitrogen and phosphorus that exists in the field, improving yield and reducing synthetic fertilizer by up to 50 lbs per acre. Learn more at www.sound.ag and follow @sound_ag on Twitter.