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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Realistic payments could encourage farmers to adopt practices that sequester carbon


Carbon sequestration in agricultural land has been studied over the past few years to determine its potential for ameliorating climate change. Agricultural soils can be efficiently exploited as carbon sinks with a variety of techniques, such as reduced tillage, cover cropping and organic systems with better manure management. However, to fully understand the potential of carbon sequestration in agriculture, the economic costs of switching from conventional to conservation management must be estimated. Since carbon sequestration depends heavily on management, crop and soil type, we conducted a field-level survey of its economic aspects in Yolo County for the 2005 growing season. The survey showed that organic and conservation management can be more profitable for field crops than conventional management in Yolo County. Finally, we demonstrated how to combine the survey data with an agronomic process model to predict the rate of adoption for conservation techniques in response to carbon payments.

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