In the uncertainty of a national carbon strategy and the functioning of a carbon offset system, farmers’ contributions to carbon sequestration and mitigation efforts are frequently understated. It appears that the more we know about the exact amount of carbon sequestered in farmland, the more power farmers may have to lobby for carbon tax exemptions.
Chelsea Sutherland, who operates a farm in Handel, Saskatchewan, and has just completed the graduate program in agricultural economics at the University of Saskatchewan, has completed research that has quantified carbon sequestration for the past 25 years. years in the province.
Through the Crop Rotation Survey, more than 100 Saskatchewan farmers answered questions about management practices during two time periods: 1991 to 1994 and 2016 to 2019.
One of the objectives of the Sutherland project was to provide information to industry, policy makers and the public on the farm-level impacts of management changes related to soil organic carbon (SOC) gains.
It is safe to say that its objective was achieved when part of its results were presented to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.
Sutherland quantified the change in soil organic carbon using a carbon accounting framework adapted from the Prairie Crop Energy Model, which aggregates the regional effects of changes in tillage and fallow practices. farmers, crop type, crop yield and residue disposal techniques. Then she applied different pricing scenarios to get a sense of the value of carbon to Saskatchewan farmers.
“We looked at a hypothetical 1,000 hectare (~ 2,470 acre) farm in Saskatchewan, and found that due to reductions in tillage practices on this farm over the past 25 years, the increase in Soil organic carbon sequestered each year was valued between $ 11,000 and $ 25,000, says Sutherland. “Then, if we consider that the changes in fallow practices have affected the organic carbon in the soil, the value of this farm actually ranges from $ 30,000 to $ 70,000. “
The project will expand to Alberta and Manitoba later this year and more information is available on the SAIF website. Farmers who participate in the survey will receive compensation of $ 200.