Alberta Carbon Offset Program and Unharvested Crops

  From the June 5, 2017 Issue of Agri-News
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 Producers currently involved in, or who wish to participate in, the Alberta Carbon Offset Program – Conservation Tillage Protocol may have unfavourable field conditions left by unharvested crops or wet fall and spring conditions. Tillage may be the only option to deal with issues such as ruts left in the field or fire breaks.

“If you till 10 per cent or more of your field, that field won’t be eligible to receive carbon offsets for the year that you tilled,” says Paul Jungnitsch, greenhouse gas offset agrologist, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “It will not affect fields that you have not tilled. You will be eligible again in the following year if you continue to direct seed.”

According to the Conservation Cropping Protocol, discretionary tillage operations of up to 10 per cent of that field (excluding sloughs, waterways, buildings, and forested areas) may be worked to address field specific management issues, such as ruts caused by wet field conditions or fire breaks. All tillage must be documented and the area estimated with this information disclosed in project documentation.

“When you do your reporting, be aware that your field may be subjected to an audit. If reported incorrectly, it can affect your carbon offsets as well as those of other farms as they have to be aggregated together into a project.”

Burning a field will not disqualify the field, unless the fire break 10 per cent or more of the workable acres.

“Keep in mind that carbon offsets are currently paying around $0.75 to $1.50/acre depending on your location,” says Jungnitsch. “You won’t want to reduce the size of your fire break just to earn carbon offsets. If your fire becomes out of control, the costs can be extensive. If your fire break is 10 per cent or over, report it. You will not be able to claim that field for that year, but will be eligible the following year if you continue to direct seed.”

The new vertical tillage units have caused some confusion. Because there are so many variations when it comes to equipment and settings within the units themselves, vertical tillage is usually treated as a regular tillage unit. Jungnitsch recommends checking with the aggregation company to make sure that is what they are doing.

“Tools such as the Alberta Soil Information Viewer can help estimate the area that was tilled. You can click on your field and use the measuring function to determine your area.”

The information contained in this article is the interpretation of AF. Offset projects must comply with the most recent quantification protocols and program requirements published by Alberta Environment and Parks, who manage Alberta’s carbon offset system.

For more information contact the Ag-Info Centre at 310-FARM (3276).

Ag-Info Centre
310-FARM (3276)

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Paul Jungnitsch.
This document is maintained by Ken Blackley.
This information published to the web on May 11, 2017.