Pork Industry Prepares to Field Test Carbon Offset Quantification Protocol

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 2163. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.
calendar icon 12 June 2006
clock icon 7 minute read
Manitoba Pork Council


Farm-Scape is sponsored by
Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork

Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council
and Sask Pork.

Farm-Scape, Episode 2163

The Canadian pork industry expects to begin field testing a new tool designed to calculate greenhouse gas offset credits a hog operation can potentially earn and sell by adopting best management practices known to reduce the generation of greenhouse gases.

The tool, a sophisticated spreadsheet type of computer calculator, will be based on a complex pork industry greenhouse gas quantification protocol. The protocol is a science based package of formulas, developed by a pork industry working group under the direction of Environment Canada's National Offsets Quantification team, to determine greenhouse gas offsets generated by hog farms that adopt environmentally friendly agricultural practices. That work began in early 2004 and is expected to conclude by the end of this month.

Effort Based on Internationally Accepted Science

“We have been coordinating with scientists from the U.S. and Canada and looking at the best possible science to bring to bear on quantifying the number of credits that might be available from changes in pork feeding practices and storage of manure and application to land,” states pork technical working group chair Karen Haugen-Kozyra. “It has been harmonized with international standards, so very science based, according to ISO 14064 standards that ensure the credits that are going to be generated are going to be gold standard here in Canada.”

Dr. Rob Janzen, with Agrologics Consulting, notes, “The protocol allows farmers or companies that work with farmers to quantify greenhouse gas reductions by innovative practices in the barn or in manure management. The protocol identifies practices farmers can use in changing feeding practices or in changing the way they spread manure or when they spread the manure so that less methane and less nitrous oxide is emitted.”

He explains, “The person using it would follow the steps laid out in the protocol, which includes things like making sure that the correct data is kept in terms of the kinds of feed used and the amount of feed used. It would keep records in terms of when manure was spread, how it was spread, where it was spread. All of those things then become inputs into the calculation process in the protocol so that the reduction of greenhouse gases is compared to what would have been emitted if they hadn't used those innovations. That's all quantified in the protocol.”

Concept Initially Tested Using Standard Spread Sheets

Dr. Janzen adds, “At this point there are some simple spread sheets that are used as sample calculations but the goal is that, once the protocol is approved, then the calculations in the protocol would be converted into a calculator which would be sort of a high end spread sheet that project proponents could use.”

The field test is scheduled to run approximately one year and will be coordinated by the Canadian Pork Council in association with the provincial pork organizations.

Field Test Expected to Involve 40 Farms

Canadian Pork Council (CPC) environmental programs coordinator Cedric MacLeod says, “We’re going to involve a number of producers from across the country in each province. The original target was to have four farms per province participate in the project and actually run the quantification protocol on each of those four farms. What we’ve found is there’s been a lot of interest across the country and chances are we’re going to have more farms per province.”

MacLeod explains, “We’re going to take these roughly 40 producers across the country and apply the protocol to their operations, which means we have to go back and dig into the records and find that 2000 base line, and then, coming up to current time frames, apply the records that they have in terms of feeding management and manure management, plug those into the protocol. The difference between that 2000 year base line and the 2006 year current will represent the greenhouse gas emissions reductions that those farms have achieved over the last number of years.”

Tests Key to Demonstrating the Protocol's Validity

Haugen-Kozyra agrees, “We need to test run it and make sure it makes sense for the practical side of the farm. We’ve had producers every step of the way helping with developing the protocol but the rubber hits the road when we get the calculator and the user friendly part of it on the farm.”

She notes, “One of the requirements of the ISO process is that the data and monitoring, the quality control on the data, is really important. They [producers] have to have good data sets so, when a third party verifier comes in, everything is in order, no questions are asked and it will facilitate the generation of offset credits much easier.”

She stresses, “The ISO 14064 standard is pretty rigorous. You require a life cycle assessment of the entire pork operation and then the upstream and down stream activities that are off site of a pork operation. It requires a very thorough analysis and it’s the kind of rigor that the federal system would like to see in terms of quantification and it's important for our pork producers to have that rigor to know it’s been applied. They may not see all that rigor up front in the calculator but we can stand up and say we’ve applied this international standard. Any credits coming off a pork operation are going to be gold standard.”

Time Frames Still Tentative

Although the protocol is very close to being finalized, actual time frames still remain a little bit sketchy.

“The goal is to complete the protocol by the end of June,” Dr. Janzen notes. “Then it needs to go through a technical review process at the program authority. Because this is one of the first or the first protocol, all the processes are in development so all of the time frames are quite elusive but the goal is to begin converting the protocol into a calculator, more of a computer program, this summer.”

MacLeod continues, “Right now we’re doing the preliminary organizing for the project. We’re going to be looking at some time in August September taking the protocol out to the provinces and sitting down and working with our producer groups from each province to analyze records and data that they have on hand.”

Haugen-Kozyra estimates, “If we get the tools developed by fall, by late fall-winter we could probably start working with producers on applying the protocol. We’re hoping that over the next 12 months to 18 months that we’ll have generated enough data and feedback that we can assess how well it’s performing.”

Field Testing Considered Timely

MacLeod believes, “This is the logical next step. For three years we talked about carbon reductions, we talked about opportunities that existed for the pork sector. The protocol and the project that we’re running now to get that protocol out into the industry over the next year is a logical next step. We’re exited to take a hard look at these quantifications so we can really have some certainty, when we go to industry, that there is actual value in greenhouse gas reductions and improvements in environmental management on our farms are going to result in real dollars in the pockets of producers.”

Dr. Janzen concludes, “I always look at this as something that’s a very powerful tool that farmers can use, not necessarily to make more money on the farm but, to demonstrate in a quantitative verifiable way to society that they are contributing to sustainable use of the environment and even making improvements that all of society can benefit from.”

Staff Farmscape.Ca
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