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Creating Carbon Offsets in Agriculture through No-Till Cultivation: A Meta-Analysis of Costs and Carbon Benefits

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Author Info

  • James Manley
  • G. Cornelis van Kooten
  • Klaus Moeltner
  • Dale Johnson

Abstract

Carbon terrestrial sinks are often seen as a low-cost alternative to fuel switching and reduced fossil fuel use for lowering atmospheric CO2. To determine whether this is true for agriculture, one meta-regression analysis (52 studies, 536 observations) examines the costs of switching from conventional tillage to no-till, while another (51 studies, 374 observations) compares carbon accumulation under the two practices. Costs per ton of carbon uptake are determined by combining the two results. The viability of agricultural carbon sinks is found to vary by region and crop, with no-till representing a low-cost option in some regions (costs of less than $10/tC), but a high-cost option in others (costs of $100-$400/tC). A particularly important finding is that no-till cultivation may store no carbon at all if measurements are taken at sufficient depth. In some circumstances no-till cultivation may yield a “triple dividend” of carbon storage, increased returns and reduced soil erosion, but in many others creating carbon offset credits in agricultural soils is not cost effective because reduced tillage practices store little or no carbon.

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File URL: https://web.uvic.ca/~repa/publications/REPA%20working%20papers/WorkingPaper2003-05.pdf
File Function: Final version, 2003
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Victoria, Department of Economics, Resource Economics and Policy Analysis Research Group in its series Working Papers with number 2003-05.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rep:wpaper:2003-05

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Related research

Keywords: costs of soil carbon credits; conventional and zero tillage systems; carbon accumulation in soil;

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Cited by:
  1. Janssen, Larry & Harer, Justin, 2010. "An Economic Analysis of No-Till Rotations and Effects on Carbon Sequestration and Long Term Sustainability of Agriculture," 2010 Annual Meeting, July 25-27, 2010, Denver, Colorado 61176, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  2. Kragt, Marit Ellen & Pannell, David J. & Robertson, Michael J. & Thamo, Tas, 2011. "Easy winnings? The economics of carbon sequestration in agricultural soils," Working Papers 109247, University of Western Australia, School of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
  3. Hediger, Werner, 2009. "The non-permanence of optimal soil carbon sequestration," 83rd Annual Conference, March 30-April 1, 2009, Dublin, Ireland 51057, Agricultural Economics Society.

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