A New GIS Nitrogen Trading Tool Concept for Conservation and Reduction of Reactive Nitrogen Losses to the Environment

Advances in Agronomy, Volume 105, 2010, Chapter Chapter 4, Pages 117-171

J.A. Delgado, C.M. Gross, H. Lal, H. Cover, P. Gagliardi, S.P. McKinney, E. Hesketh, and M.J. Shaffer

“Nitrogen (N) inputs to agricultural systems are important for their sustainability. However, when N inputs are unnecessarily high, the excess can contribute to greater agricultural N losses that impact air, surface water, and groundwater quality. It is paramount to reduce off-site transport of N by using sound management practices. These practices could potentially be integrated with water and air quality markets, and new tools will be necessary to calculate potential nitrogen savings available for trade. The USDA-NRCS and USDA-ARS Soil Plant Nutrient Research Unit developed a web-based and stand-alone Nitrogen Trading Tool (NTT) prototype. These prototypes have an easy-to-use interface where nitrogen management practices are selected for a given state and the NTT calculates the nitrogen trading potential compared to a given baseline. The stand-alone prototype can also be used to calculate potential savings in direct and indirect carbon sequestration equivalents from practices that reduce N losses. These tools are powerful, versatile, and can run with the USA soil databases from NRCS (SSURGO) and NRCS climate databases. The NTT uses the NLEAP model, which is accurate at the field level and has GIS capabilities. Results indicate that the NTT was able to evaluate management practices for Ohio, Colorado, and Virginia, and that it could be used to quickly conduct assessments of nitrogen savings that can potentially be traded for direct and indirect carbon sequestration equivalents in national and international water and air quality markets. These prototypes could facilitate determining ideal areas to implement management practices that will mitigate N losses in hot spots and provide benefits in trading.”