A Closer Look at RIPE’s Qualifying Practices: Nutrient Management

Chart: Nutrient management provides robust environmental benefitsRIPE’s researchers continually work to expand the set of practices that would qualify for $100 per unit payment under the proposed RIPE100 program by collecting research that demonstrates the combined environmental value of climate-smart practices. Nutrient management (NRCS Code 590) is one of these practices.

Nutrient management, which includes properly applying manure to land, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and provides additional environmental benefits valued at over $750 per acre per year.

We found that farmers and ranchers who adopt nutrient management provide over $750 in air quality benefits. They also improve water quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 0.2 metric tons per acre. 

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

Nutrient Management

Ecosystem ServiceValue ($/acre/year)Source
GHG (at $20/tonne)$4The Duke University report “Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Potential of Agricultural Land Management in the United States: A Synthesis of the Literature” indicates that improved manure land application can reduce N2O emissions by .32 tonnes/acre. At $20/tonne, this creates a public value of $6/acre. Source.

Farming for Our Future (Rosenberg & Lehner) indicates that improved synthetic fertilizer management can reduce GHG emissions by 0.11 tonnes/acre.

The USDA COMET-Planner tool indicates that applying organic material to land reduces GHG emissions by 0.2 tonnes/acre, and that reducing N fertilizer application by 15% has neutral impacts on GHG emissions.

Air Quality Benefits (Human Health)$758A number of studies indicate that closed-slot manure injection typically reduces ammonia emission by over 90% (e.g., Thompson et. al. 1987, Weslien et al. 1998, Pote et al. 2011, Kulesza et al. 2014 . Another study indicates that incorporation reduces ammonia emissions by 14 kg NH3/acre (Sutitarnnonntr, P., E., et,al,). The public cost of ammonia is $48,565/ton NH3 (Heo, et al. 2016).
Water Quality Benefits$1A long-term study conducted by Iowa State University researchers found that reduced poultry manure application rates reduced Nitrate loss to water sources by nearly 10 kg/ha/year, or 4.02 kg/acre/year (Nguyen et al., 2013).

Incorporation and injection are found to reduce N loading by an average of 10% in the Chesapeake Bay (Chesapeake Bay Program, 2016).

Manure land application on average loses 486 kg of nitrate/ha/yr, or 197 kg/ac/yr, to water sources (UC Davis, Nitrogen Sources and Loading Groundwater, 2012).

Keeler et al. (2016) found the social cost of nitrogen pollution in water to be on average $0.005/kg nitrate, based on water treatment costs.*

*This is a low-end estimate and excludes potential health, recreational, or aesthetic values. More comprehensive estimates of the public cost of Nitrate in water sources would yield a higher water quality value for nutrient management.