The Crush.March2022 - 1

Volume 49 | Issue 3 | March 2022
Climate Adaptation Certification Practices and Modeling
Unified Session Presents Grower Experiences
Article by Ted Rieger
Adapting vineyards to a changing climate and implementing
regenerative agriculture practices were session topics at the
2022 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento in
January. Laurel Marcus of the California Land Stewardship
Institute (CLSI) and the Fish Friendly Farming certification
program presented background and basic concepts of
regenerative agriculture that she described as " not welldefined
but generally similar to organic farming, but no
tillage is allowed. " She said, " It appears to have started
in the Midwest, but what works in the Midwest may not
work in California where drought conditions are becoming
common. " Regenerative farming places a focus on soil
health, promoting practices such as reusing farm waste
and composting, reducing carbon emissions, increasing
biodiversity, and improving farm health and resilience to
climate change.
In 2017, CLSI began developing a Climate Adaptation
Certification (CAC) program by reviewing 300 peer-reviewed
scientific papers from research in California and other
Mediterranean climates. CLSI created best management
practices and a Climate Farm Plan Template that were peer
reviewed by three soil scientists. The Unified session focused
on the science of soil processes related to greenhouse
gas (GHG) emissions and carbon (C) sequestration, and
measuring and modeling the impacts of agricultural practices
for climate-friendly decision making. As Marcus explained,
" CAC is not a one size fits all approach. It uses flexibility
and collaboration with growers to determine best practices
for each farm to benefit crop production and economic
efficiency as well as climate. "
The three main GHG emissions related to farming
and their values in terms of global warming potential
are: carbon dioxide (CO2)--1, methane
(CH4)--25, and nitrous oxide (N2O)-298.
Agriculture tends to be a smaller
contributor to CO2 emissions in
California than other sectors, but CO2
is released by soil disturbance and tillage. Methane is
more commonly associated with livestock operations. N2O
is associated with nitrogen fertilizer use and additions to
farm soils. N20 emissions from soils can occur after rain or
Practices known and used to sequester carbon and reduce
GHGs are no tillage/reduced tillage, use of cover crops,
planting native plants in hedgerows and maintaining adjacent
natural areas and vegetation, retaining crop residues,
mulching and composting.
Marcus recommends the COMET-Farm modeling tool
(, a whole farm carbon and GHG accounting
system available through the USDA Natural Resources
Conservation Service (NRCS). Marcus observed, " The only
way to do this is through modeling. If you don't quantify the
results of your practices you don't know if you're improving. "
She acknowledged, " COMET-Farm takes a lot of training to
use, but it is the real deal. "
Unified Session Panel
Although certification practices, measurement and analyses,
and cost considerations for implementation need further
study, Marcus noted that vineyards have some advantages
regarding C sequestration and GHG reduction compared
with other crop systems. Winegrapes use low levels of
irrigation with drip systems, consequently, soil saturation
areas are low, reducing N2O emissions compared with crops
that flood irrigate.

The Crush.March2022

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