A Closer Look at RIPE’s Qualifying Practices: Methodology and Sources for Conservation Crop Rotation

RIPE’s researchers continually work to expand the set of practices that would qualify for a $100 per unit payment under the proposed RIPE100 program by collecting research that demonstrates the combined environmental value of climate-smart practices.

Conservation crop rotation

In April 2022, we approved conservation crop rotation (NRCS Code 328). Conservation crop rotation reduces greenhouse gas emissions and provides additional environmental benefits valued at over $240 per acre per year.

We found that farmers who adopt conservation crop rotation provide over $170 in air quality benefits, nearly $50 in water quality benefits, and $12 in soil quality benefits per acre. They also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 0.2 metric tons per acre, which is about $4 per acre.

Review our methodology and sources in the charts below and access our current list of proposed qualifying practices here

Conservation Crop Rotation

Ecosystem ServiceValue ($/acre/year)Source
Carbon Sequestration$5USDA COMET-Planner indicates an average GHG reduction value of .23 metric tons/acre for conservation crop rotation. Priced at a carbon payment of $20/ton of GHG, this GHG reduction is valued at $5/acre.

Reduced Soil Erosion (water quality benefits)$39According to a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (2017) , Conservation Crop Rotation reduces erosion by 9.5 tons of soil/acre, valued at $39/acre in water quality benefits.

Reduced Herbicide (water quality benefits)$10Conservation Crop Rotation reduces herbicide application by 25-51%, or an average of 38% (Union of Concerned Scientists (2017)). The baseline herbicide application is 1kg/acre (Hunt et al., 2017), meaning conservation crop rotation reduced herbicide by .38kg/acre. The value of herbicide reduction is $27/kg (Pimental 2005).

https://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/publication/?seqNo115=313376

The study “Alternate wetting and drying reduces aquifer withdrawal in Mississippi rice production systems” by R. Lee Atwill, et al. (2020) finds that AWD reduces diesel costs by a baseline average of $83/ha at a per liter cost of $.70. This equates to a 118L/ha diesel reduction, or 47.75 L/acres. Each liter of diesel emits .00264 metric tons of CO2. https://ecoscore.be/en/info/ecoscore/co2 47.75 L/acre * .00264 tons/L equals .13 tons of CO2/acre. Multiplied by $20/ton of CO2, this equals $3/acre.

Air Quality$177Conservation Crop Rotation reduces fertilizer use by 50% (Union of Concerned Scientists (2017). An average of 84.5 pounds of nitrogen/acre is used for corn, cotton, soy, and wheat (USDA). Conversion to ammonia is an average of 50 pounds NH3 reduced/acre (Goebbes et al., 2003, Mikkelsen, 2009, Dari et al., 2019, Jones et al., 2020) . A 50% reduction equals 8.5 pounds ammonia is reduced/acre. The average social cost of ammonia is $21/pound (Hansen, NASA, 2014; Heo, et al. 2016).

Healthy Soil$12According to a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (2017), Conservation Crop Rotation reduces erosion by 9.5 tons of soil/acre, valued at $1.27/ton of soil according to the USDA report “Economic Measures of Soil Conservation Benefits).

Total$243