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Climate-smart agriculture : more information needed

Climate-smart agriculture : more information needed

Both the federal government and some state governments are advancing “climate-smart agriculture.”

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), for example, recently released a policy agenda for the next decade that would “foster climate-smart, resilient and regenerative food systems.”

But a newly released study issued by the Stanford Law School says, “Forward progress in this area . . . is constrained by major data and analytical gaps that prevent accurate and verifiable quantification of how much climate-smart farming and ranching practices are growing carbon stocks in soils and biomass or reducing methane and nitrous oxide emissions.”

To translate from the academese, current scientific knowledge isn’t good enough to make sure that “climate-smart” practices are doing what they’re supposed to do.

The report is focused on two air pollution sources that are associated with climate changes. One—methane emissions from livestock operations (aka cattle flatulence)—does not directly concern the produce industry. Nitrous oxide emissions are the other. As their name implies, agricultural fertilizers rely on nitrates. Nitrate…

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