Purdue Climate Change Research Center

Socio-Economic Research on the Supply of Climate Regulating Ecosystem Services from Agriculture

Funded by USDA, Purdue mission-oriented grant funds, and a PCCRC seed grant

Indiana is an integral part of the nation’s agricultural economy, ranking fourth in total soybean production and fifth in total corn (for grain) production in 2008. As world population continues to grow, so too does the demand for grains, and agricultural producers are called upon to be more productive while also supplying additional non-commodity services to society from managed agro-ecosystems. These services have come to be called “ecosystem services” (ES), and are closely linked to domestic and international policies to address concerns about climate change and ongoing policies that address soil and water conservation. Agriculture has long been on the front lines of soil and water conservation, but concerns about climate change are a relatively new development that creates both challenges and opportunities for Indiana farmers.

The use of reduced tillage or no-till cultivation practices in combination with crop residue management, cover cropping, and/or water and nutrient management has the potential to enhance soil and water conservation while providing climate regulation services to society by sequestering more atmospheric carbon, preventing nitrogen loss in agricultural soils and reducing fossil fuel use. No-till has been around for more than 30 years and many Indiana farmers were among the early adopters, with 68% of soybean and 26% of corn acres planted in the state of Indiana using some form of conservation tillage in 2007. The chief economic motivation to adopt conservation tillage historically has been the fuel and labor-saving benefits it provided, but in the last 5 years the potential for farmers to be paid for changing from conventional tillage practices has emerged with markets for carbon emissions offsets through the Chicago Climate Exchange and proposed federal legislation to cap national emissions of CO2. Based on total corn and soybeans acres planted in 2007, there are an additional 5.8 million acres that could potentially be converted to conservation tillage practices in Indiana and supply ES to society.

With support from the USDA, Purdue mission-oriented grant funds, and a PCCRC seed grant,  Ben Gramig and collaborators seek to answer questions such as, What distinguishes those farmers who have adopted conservation tillage and other soil and water conserving practices from those who have not? What information is most useful to decision makers faced with the opportunity of mitigating future climate change and those seeking ways to adapt their way of life to a changing climate?

Primary Investigator

  • Ben Gramig

Contact Information

Purdue University
PCCRC
203 S. Martin Jischke Drive
MANN 105
West Lafayette, IN 47907