Monday, October 23, 2023

Evaluating the incentive for soil organic carbon sequestration from carinata production

Over the years we have developed several agent-based models that have explored various aspects of farming, ranging from farmers selling their land for development to that of water reuse. Keeping with this theme, we have a new paper with Kazi Ullah and Gbadebo Oladosu in the "Journal of Environmental Management" entitled "Evaluating the incentive for soil organic carbon sequestration from carinata production in the Southeast United States". 
In the paper we developed an agent-based model to evaluate what incentives might be needed for farmers to sequester soil organic carbon (SOC) when adopting a new bioenergy crop namely carinata. We simulated two carinata management scenarios: business as usual and climate-smart (no-till). The model finds that SOC sequestration incentives reduce the seed price needed to reach maximum adoption rates. While incentives lead to higher adoption rates, SOC sequestration, and profitability with no-till farming. 
If this sounds of interest, below you can read the abstract to the paper, get a sense of the agent logic and see some of the results. While at the bottom of the page, you can find the full reference and a link to the paper. The model (created in NetLogo) and data needed to run it is available on Kazi's GitHub page:

Abstract: Soil organic carbon (SOC) can be increased by cultivating bioenergy crops to produce low-carbon fuels, improving soil quality and agricultural productivity. This study evaluates the incentives for farmers to sequester SOC by adopting a bioenergy crop, carinata. Two agricultural management scenarios – business as usual (BaU) and a climate-smart (no-till) practice – were simulated using an agent-based modeling approach to account for farmers’ carinata adoption rates within their context of traditional crop rotations, the associated profitability, influences of neighboring farmers, as well as their individual attitudes. Using the state of Georgia, US, as a case study, the results show that farmers allocated 1056 × 103 acres (23.8%; 2.47 acres is equivalent to 1 ha) of farmlands by 2050 at a contract price of $6.5 per bushel of carinata seeds and with an incentive of $50 Mg−1 CO2e SOC sequestered under the BaU scenario. In contrast, at the same contract price and SOC incentive rate, farmers allocated 1152 × 103 acres (25.9%) of land under the no-till scenario, while the SOC sequestration was 483.83 × 103 Mg CO2e, which is nearly four times the amount under the BaU scenario. Thus, this study demonstrated combinations of seed prices and SOC incentives that encourage farmers to adopt carinata with climate-smart practices to attain higher SOC sequestration benefits.

Keywords: Agent-based model, Bioenergy, Climate-smart agriculture, Soil organic carbon, Incentives, Sustainable aviation fuel.


Process, overview and scheduling of the model

An example simulation output of a model run (SOC incentive = $50 Mg−1 CO2e, Carinata contract price = 6.5, Expanded diffusion, Low initial willingness scenario).

The total number of farmers who adopted carinata over the years for two farming scenarios at five levels of incentives for SOC sequestration and at the four price levels.

The mean land allocation area for four scenarios and their associated standard deviations (error bar).

Full Reference:  

Ullah, K.M., Gbadebo G.A., and Crooks, A.T. (2023), Evaluating the Incentive for Soil Organic Carbon Sequestration from Carinata Production in the Southeast United States, Journal of Environmental Management, 348: 119418. Available at (pdf)

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