The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced the release of an enhanced and expanded online tool developed in collaboration with Colorado State University (CSU) that helps producers estimate carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions associated with a variety of on-farm management practices.
"This is a user-friendly tool that any conservation-minded landowner can employ to evaluate their greenhouse gas emissions," said NRCS Chief Dave White. "Once producers have a better sense of their carbon footprint, they can choose to make changes within their operations that will enhance the environment for their families as well as their local communities."
The tool, officially known as COMET-VR 2.0, is housed on the CSU Web site at http://www.comet2.colostate.edu/. Similar to the first version, COMET-VR, Version 2.0 is easy-to-use and connected to state-of-the-art models that help farmers and ranchers evaluate on-farm greenhouse gas emissions and sequestration options. The online tool estimates carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emission reductions associated with the implementation of conservation practices for cropland, pasture, rangeland, orchards and agroforestry. In addition, the user-friendly evaluation tool includes estimates for biomass and soil carbon stock changes, and carbon dioxide emissions from on-farm energy use.
The latest version of the popular tool also expands the evaluation of greenhouse gases beyond carbon dioxide by estimating reductions in nitrous oxide emissions from agricultural practices that improve the efficiency of fertilizer and manure applications. In addition, COMET-VR 2.0 is compatible with national and international standards including the Environmental Protection Agency's U.S. greenhouse gas annual inventory that documents greenhouse gas emissions nationwide.
COMET-VR 2.0 is applicable to all agricultural lands in the conterminous 48 states. Information necessary to evaluate land use and energy changes include state, 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.
For more information about NRCS programs and services, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov or your local USDA Service Center.