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In this report, approaches to the quantification of climate mitigation ecosystem services at the whole farm scale are reviewed and summarized for easy comparison. Eight quantification tools, and three case studies demonstrating possible tool applications, are summarized to fulfill the requirements of the Technical Services Contract—Task 7. Information from a combination of literature review and expert interviews served to document the inputs, outputs, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for each quantification tool. This research was conducted in service to the Vermont Soil Health and Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) Working Group (VT PES working group). It is our hope that this report provides productive information and insights for the implementation of whole farm scale payment for ecosystem services programs, Vermont’s Climate Action Plan, and similar efforts elsewhere.

Emissions reductions on farms are of interest to farmers in Vermont and will be required by the implementation of the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA). Management changes that reduce emissions at the farm scale could possibly be supported and encouraged through a PES program. Given the work and goals of the PES Working Group and the requirements to implement the GWSA it is critical to understand the degree of accuracy and scope of currently available greenhouse gas assessment tools that could possibly be implemented to measure and monitor outcomes from VT agriculture.

Section 2 of this report describes the methods used to collect information reviewing eight tools for quantifying agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and sequestration rates, including the CarbOn Management & Emissions Tool (COMET)-Farm, COMET-Planner, COOL-Farm, DayCent, DNDC (DeNitrification-DeComposition), Environmental Policy Integrated Climate (EPIC) & APEX Agricultural Policy / Environmental eXtender (APEX), Holos, and the Integrated Farm Systems Model (IFSM). These eight tools were each reviewed using a systematic literature review, interviews with experts who are well-versed in using the specific tools, and a Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) analysis.

Section 3 presents some larger-context considerations for choosing an appropriate tool. Section 4 gives a high-level overview of the SWOT analysis performed for each tool reviewed for this task. Section 5 describes three example applications of emissions modeling tools.Section 6 contains concluding remarks. The report’s Appendix section includes the SWOT analyses for each tool to allow for more in-depth review, as well as a series of tables to present a high-level comparison of the tools.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.