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

Author

Listed:
  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • James Manley & G. Cornelis van Kooten & Klaus Moeltner & Dale Johnson, 2003. "Creating Carbon Offsets in Agriculture through No-Till Cultivation: A Meta-Analysis of Costs and Carbon Benefits," Working Papers 2003-05, University of Victoria, Department of Economics, Resource Economics and Policy Analysis Research Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:rep:wpaper:2003-05
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    File URL: https://web.uvic.ca/~repa/publications/REPA%20working%20papers/WorkingPaper2003-05.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:2:p:555-:d:132793 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Fulton, Murray E. & Cule, Monika & Weersink, Alfons, 2005. "Greenhouse Gas Policy and Canadian Agriculture," CAFRI: Current Agriculture, Food and Resource Issues, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society, issue Issue 6, pages 1-11, January.
    3. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:10:p:1840-:d:114789 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. 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.
    5. Griffin, Terry Wayne & Zapata, Samuel D., 2015. "Optimal Cotton Insecticide Application Termination Timing: A Meta-Analysis," 2015 Annual Meeting, January 31-February 3, 2015, Atlanta, Georgia 196815, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
    6. Kragt, Marit Ellen & Pannell, David J. & Robertson, Michael J., 2011. "Easy winnings? The economics of carbon sequestration in agricultural soils," 2011 Conference (55th), February 8-11, 2011, Melbourne, Australia 100575, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    7. 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.
    8. Krishna, Vijesh V. & Veettil, Prakashan C., 2014. "Productivity and efficiency impacts of conservation tillage in northwest Indo-Gangetic Plains," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 126-138.
    9. van Kooten, G. Cornelis & Eagle, Alison J., 2003. "Climate Change and Forest Ecosystem Sinks: Economic Analysis," Working Papers 18152, University of Victoria, Resource Economics and Policy.

    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • Q10 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - General
    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General

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