June 2021 ESMC Newsletter
Announcing ESMRC Working Group Science Advisors
ESMC welcomes five new Science Advisors to support the development and implementation of the research tasks undertaken by the Ecosystem Services Market Research Consortium (ESMRC) Working Groups. ESMRC Science Advisors are responsible for providing objective and independent scientific guidance to the Working Group activities and research projects. Science Advisors may also review project proposals, interim project results, and final deliverables for scientific validity. Advisors serve can serve up to three consecutive one-year terms, for a maximum of three years in this role.
Working Group 1: GHG Asset Quantification
- Dr. Jason Sawyer, Associate Professor and Research Scientist with King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management, Texas A&M — Dr. Sawyer has over 20 years of experience in beef cattle production management and nutrition and has been integrally involved in beef cattle sustainability over the past decade. Dr. Sawyer’s recent research has focused on GHG emission reductions in beef cattle production systems and the role of beef cattle in sequestering carbon on grazing lands.
- Dr. Tryon Wickersham, Associate Professor in Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M – Dr. Wickersham’s research focuses on improving the sustainability of beef cattle production by incorporating novel coproducts into cattle diets and describing nitrogen metabolism in beef cattle. He is also currently working on a project that examines the use of methane as an indicator of beef sustainability.
Working Group 2: Water Asset Quantification
- Dr. Austin Omer, Associate Director of Natural Resource Policy, Illinois Farm Bureau – Dr. Omer is an interdisciplinary hydrologist and agricultural scientist with expertise in hydrology and water quality. His research interests include refining existing conservation practices to overcome barriers to adoption, investigating the interaction of conservation practices, and balancing the tradeoffs of agriculture sustainability efforts across production systems.
Working Group 4: Soil Carbon Research
- Dr. Maria Mooshammer, Scientist, Trace Genomics – Dr. Mooshammer is a biogeochemist and ecosystem scientist whose research work and interests range from the molecular to ecosystem scales. Her research focuses on understanding how microbes control soil carbon and nutrient cycling in both natural and agricultural systems, as well as their stability and resilience under environmental changes.
- Dr. Rich Conant, Professor and Head of the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, Colorado State University – Dr. Conant’s research focuses on understanding the feedbacks between human activities and ecosystem biogeochemistry. Specifically, he is interested in how land use and land management practices impact carbon and nitrogen cycling in agricultural and grassland ecosystems.
The ESMC/ESMRC staff would like to thank former Science Advisors Mariko Thorbecke (WG 1), Jennifer Moore (WG 4) and Mahdi Al-Kaisi (WG 4) for their service over the past year. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors!
ESMC Pilot Project Update
On June 9, Nutrien unveiled its portfolio approach to 2021 North American carbon pilots to identify the best path to successfully scale its carbon program introduced in 2020. This portfolio includes ESMC’s pilots with Nutrien and partners Syngenta and Corteva to test pilots in Iowa and Indiana. Partners will use ESMC’s guidelines and protocols to create carbon assets for 10,000 acres in Northeast Iowa and 10,000 acres in Central Indiana. For more information on ESMC’s growing map of 2020 and 2021 pilots, click here.
ESMC’s Federal and State Policy Engagement Updates
As part of ESMC’s continued engagement in the federal and state policy arena, ESMC submitted comments to the Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) open comment period for the Executive Order on “America’s Supply Chains” to discuss the importance of sustainable agriculture in creating more reliant and resilient supply chains. The ESMC Policy Committee continued to hold its biweekly meetings to discuss developing policy issues that affect ecosystem services markets and craft its engagement strategy for promoting ESMC’s program to policymakers. ESMC joined the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) and held meetings with various policymakers in Congress, the administration, and at the state level.
ESMC Welcomes New Founding Circle Member: The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy
ESMC is pleased to announce a new member joining our public-private partnership as a Founding Circle member – The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. Welcome!
The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy is a voluntary organization that works with leaders from across the dairy value chain to align on pre-competitive priorities, drive progress and speak with one voice. The goal – to advance a shared social responsibility platform and demonstrate U.S. dairy’s collective commitment to provide the world responsibly produced dairy foods that nourish people, strengthen communities and foster a sustainable future. For more information, click here.
ESMC Has Openings for a Membership Manager and Postdoctoral Researcher/Research Scientist
ESMC and ESMRC, the research arm of ESMC, have a position open for a Chief Technology Officer posted on ESMC’s website. Interested applicants should send a cover letter, along with salary requirements, available start dates, and a resume to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name in the title of all files (ex. Jane Doe cover letter). The position will remain posted until filled.
ESMC seeks a Membership Manager to lead the organization’s communications with and outreach to members. Specific responsibilities include ESMC member targeting, recruitment and member servicing; maintaining updated ESMC membership documents and materials; developing and hosting monthly member onboarding; and ongoing member engagement and servicing via regular check-ins, surveys, focus groups, discussion groups, and/or webinars, and other forms of individual and aggregated engagement and outreach. The position is a full-time contractor role.
ESMRC Postdoctoral Researcher/Research Scientist
ESMRC seeks a dedicated ESMRC Postdoctoral Researcher with experience in the agricultural field related to soil science to join a small and dynamic, fast-paced team environment. The successful candidate will 1) provide consistent and expert direction and support for Working Group members engaged in investing and implementing improved tools and approaches to quantifying soil carbon and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector; 2) assist in identifying priority soil science-oriented research needs; and 3) implement pilot project research while working closely with the ESMC/ESMRC Deputy Director, ESMRC Research Manager, and relevant ESMRC Project Manager(s), research contractors, and ESMC/ESMRC teams.
ESMC In The News
Viewpoint: Carbon Negative Farming? Cover Crops, Rotational Grazing and No Till Agriculture Could Capture Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Genetic Literacy Project (June 18)
This article highlights AgMission, a 2020 partnership with ESMC funder the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers in Action (USFRA) and how the partnership is working to reduce carbon with agriculture. It features an interview with Meredith Ellis, a Texas rancher participating in an ESMC pilot, who highlights the importance of information sharing, data privacy, and the potential role of the AgMission. Click here to read the full article.
Look for ESMC At….
The Role of Agricultural Science and Technology in Climate 21 Project Implementation Webinar
On June 29, from 1-2 pm ET, ESMC’s Debbie Reed will speak at a webinar hosted by the Council for Agricultural Science & Technology to unveil a new report (of which Ms. Reed was a contributing author). This document summarizes key recommendations and priorities where current agricultural science and technology can be applied and where new investments will be critical to meeting the goals of the Biden administration. Registration is now open.
ESMC Member News
FFAR Grant Enhances Dairy Industry Sustainability
Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (June 17)
ESMC funder the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $10 million grant to the Dairy Research Institute (DRI) to support the dairy community’s Net Zero Initiative, an industry-wide effort to adopt practices and technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve environmental health. The Net Zero Initiative is led by six national dairy organizations including ESMC Founding Circle member the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. The FFAR grant will advance the work of the Net Zero Initiative in collaboration with ESMC Founding Circle member Soil Health Institute and leading dairy research institutions, including ESMC Legacy Partner member Cornell University. Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), Newtrient and other Net Zero Initiative partners, including ESMC Founding Circle member Nestlé, are providing funding and in-kind support for a total project value of $23.2 million. To read the full announcement, click here.
Dr. Sally Flis Voted CAST President-Elect for 2021-2022
Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (June 14)
In a recent election at the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST), Dr. Sally Flis—Sustainable Ag Field Manager with ESMC Founding Circle member Nutrien Ag Solutions—was chosen as the President-Elect for 2021-2022. Flis will officially assume her responsibilities as President-Elect at the conclusion of CAST’s fall board meeting in October. In 2022-2023, she will become the 50th president of CAST, a singular honor and responsibility dating back to 1972, when Charles A. Black and Norman Borlaug, along with other committed scientists, spearheaded the movement to “bring science-based information to policymaking and the public.” To read the full announcement, click here.
NCGA Releases First Sustainability Report
Farm Progress (June 8)
U.S. farmers have reduced soil loss per acre by 58% and reduced greenhouse gas emissions per bushel of corn produced by 31% since 1980, but corn growers aren’t resting on their laurels. Instead, they are charging ahead with new goals for the next decade, outlined in a report out June 8 from ESMC Legacy Partner member the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). The U.S. Corn Sustainability Report establishes five goals including: increase land-use efficiency by 12%, increase irrigation water use efficiency by 15%, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 13%. To read the full article and download the report, click here.
Precision Conservation Management Releases 2021 Data and Recommendations
Illinois Corn Growers Association (June 7)
Precision Conservation Management (PCM), a farmer service program led by ESMC Legacy Partner member Illinois Corn Growers Association and Illinois Soybean Association, and supported by a non-profit technology partner, ESMC Legacy Partner member Heartland Science and Technology Group, released their 2021 Business Case for Conservation, providing financial and environmental data on common Illinois farm practices. To read the full article and report, click here.
Other News of Note
Summer Webinar Series on Soil Carbon Sequestration Technology
Attend a webinar series organized by the International Soil Carbon Network in partnership with the American Geophysical Union and the USDA Climate Hubs to advance critical questions in soil carbon sequestration technology. The goal of this webinar series is to hear diverse scientific perspectives from soil carbon researchers on key technical questions that inform how to sequester soil carbon in working lands. Each webinar will focus on questions such as: What approaches could enable widespread soil carbon monitoring? When does increased soil C storage yield net removal of greenhouse gases? What are the potential carbon impacts of reduced tillage, cover crops, and compost? To learn more about the full series, click here. Part 2 of the series, Emerging Techniques for Widespread Soil Carbon Monitoring, takes place July 13 at 3pm ET.
Agriculture Cannot Afford to Be Neutral on Carbon
Ohio Country Journal (June 21)
It is very clear the Biden Administration is putting emphasis on climate change and plans to move forward with, or without, the cooperation of U.S. agriculture. “President Biden announced a major goal –— for the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by half over the next decade as compared to 2005 levels,” said Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program. “Several bills introduced in Congress recently could help agriculture fulfill that key role. The proposals offer incentives and assistance for farmers, ranchers, and forest owners to engage in carbon sequestration practices.” The most noteworthy for agriculture is the Growing Climate Solutions Act. Click here to read the full article.
What Does the Executive Order on Climate-Related Risk Mean for Agricultural Finance?
Environmental Defense Fund (June 14)
The recent federal executive order on climate-related financial risk institutes a whole-of-government approach to assessing and mitigating climate-related financial risk, with the goal of bolstering the resilience of financial institutions and the communities they serve. Maintaining U.S. agriculture’s position as a global leader long into the future will require the sector to address climate risk head-on, and soon, with innovative financial solutions that move beyond managing risk and move toward financing resilience. This article highlights some implications of the executive order for agricultural finance institutions, and opportunities for these institutions for support a more resilient and prosperous food system. Click here to read the full article.
Testing Conservation Strategies with Surprising Results
The Rural Reconciliation Project (June 14)
In a new publication in the journal Conservation Letters, Using a Randomized Controlled Trial to Develop Conservation Strategies on Rented Farmlands, the authors evaluate actual landowner responses to various conservation program designs — with surprising results. The authors used a randomized controlled trial to test conservation strategies in a sample of 2,225 non-operating agricultural landowners in the Mississippi River Basin. Read the full article here.
Why Greenhouse Gas Inventories Are Important for Natural and Working Lands — and How to Fix Them
World Resources Institute (June 9)
Inventories of greenhouse emissions are a critical tool in the fight against climate change that allow entities like countries, states, cities, and businesses to measure how much progress they are making toward meeting emissions-reduction targets, such as those set under the Paris Climate Agreement. Climate policies at all levels of government are also informed by data in greenhouse gas inventories. Through a partnership, WRI and the U.S. Climate Alliance have published a guide for states to develop and improve their greenhouse gas inventories with an eye toward one sector that has often been shortchanged: natural and working lands. Click here to read the full article and access inventory tools and resources.