Environmentally conscious farmers can now use their computers to keep tabs on their greenhouse gas emissions.
The COMET-VR (version two) allows farmers and ranchers who are working to sequester carbon and slash the amount of greenhouse gases they emit to monitor the effectiveness of their conservation efforts. It also calculates emissions of nitrous oxide, which can be cut by smarter use of fertilizer and manure, and factors in fuel and electricity usage.
“This is a user-friendly tool that any conservation-minded landowner can employ to evaluate their greenhouse gas emissions,” said Dave White, chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, in a prepared statement.
“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 technology is an upgrade from the first version of the COMET-VR. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service developed the tool in collaboration with Colorado State University.
The system is compatible with the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas annual inventory, which tracks greenhouse gas emissions across the U.S.
It can be used to measure greenhouse gas emissions from cropland, pastures, rangeland, orchards, vineyards and agroforestry. The use of electricity to power farm equipment can be factored in. Emissions from the fuels used to run farm vehicles and machinery are also accounted for. Fuel options include diesel, gasoline, propane, biodiesel and natural gas.
The system is easy to use. Farmers need to plug in information that includes their state and county, size of the land to be assessed, surface soil texture, the history of land use, tillage and fertilization practices, future land management and carbon storage practices, and fossil fuel electricity consumption.
The tool’s algorithms do the rest, spitting out a report that can be viewed online or printed out.