The interests of agricultural businesses and environmentalists often seem diametrically opposed, but two organizations are working hand-in-hand to balance the needs of both and create a model for more sustainable agriculture.
Through a pilot program from the Almond Board of California and the Environmental Defense Fund, almond growers are working to reduce the environmental impacts of agriculture while gaining access to greenhouse gas markets like those under California’s cap-and-trade program.
Here’s how it works: Almond growers who reduce their use of nitrogen-based fertilizers can earn carbon credits that are then sold to companies and industries seeking to meet emission targets. It’s a win-win for environmental sustainability and profitability.
According to a recent Almond Board blog post:
By participating in this market-based system, farmers are financially incentivized to adopt farming practices shown to reduce climate change impacts from greenhouse gases.
Through a research-based tool released by the Almond Board, almond growers can fine-tune their nutrient practices and learn the right rate, time, place and type of fertilizer to fulfill each tree’s needs. In so doing, growers can reduce nitrate runoff and harmful nitrous oxide emissions—while earning saleable carbon credits.
From the blog:
“To keep farming, growers need to be profitable,” says Susan Friedman, senior director of sustainable agriculture for the EDF. “From an environmental perspective, only those initiatives that make good business sense will get to scale and be truly successful.”
The program provides tangible financial incentives for growers who practice sustainable almond farming. In addition, many almond growers and other agriculture operations are expanding on these sustainable practices by adding solar or purchasing renewable energy—not only for the environmental benefits, but because it makes good financial sense for their businesses.