Case Studies

In 2010, the Canadian province of Alberta approved the Nitrous Oxide Emission Reduction Protocol (NERP) for use within its carbon offsets program — a system where producers can buy or sell unused carbon emission portions. Alberta has 24 million acres of farmland and encompasses 32 percent of Canada’s total agricultural land, making it a major driver of agriculture trends both locally and internationally.

These elements made Alberta ideal for testing NERP’s potential to reduce on-farm emissions.

— Garth Whyte, President and CEO of Fertilizer Canada


In The Field

To evaluate NERP’s impact, one million acres of cropland in Alberta are currently reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Protocol. Leading agronomy companies are working with the Government of Alberta to help farmers achieve greater fertilizer efficiency, improve profits and sell their carbon balances through Alberta’s offsets program.

Participating farmers and crop advisors receive NERP-based 4R Nutrient Stewardship training to improve nitrogen management on their farms. They’re educated in best management practices like using controlled release fertilizers, precision planting and soil testing. Producers are also taught precise measuring activities for nitrous oxide (N20) and GHG emissions, and how to keep records to verify these reductions in credible way.

The Yield

Government and producers in Alberta are seeing a substantial reduction in N20 emissions per unit of crop produced — up to half in some cases. This has led to an overall agricultural GHG emissions reduction of 15 to 25 percent for participating farms.

Farmers are also experiencing a better return on fertilizer dollars under NERP. Producers have seen their profits increase from $9 to $87 per acre, per year with improved management practices.

Widening Impact

Other Canadian jurisdictions have been encouraged by the results of the Alberta experience. Large agricultural production areas like Saskatchewan and Ontario are increasingly adopting these practices.

Around the globe, stakeholders have shown support for the work done in Alberta and are further researching NERP as an approach to cost-effective and environmentally responsible soil management.

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