Bangsund, Dean (North Dakota State University, P.O. Box 5636, Fargo, ND, 58105; Phone: 701-231-7471; Fax: 701-231-7400; Email:


Carbon Sequestration in Spring Wheat Producing Regions of the Northern Great Plains


D.A. Bangsund*, F.L. Leistritz


Carbon sequestration in crop land is currently viewed as a low-cost option to mitigate the increase in greenhouse gas emissions.  Existing research suggests that at low carbon prices the primary carbon sequestration activities would be changes in tillage practices and as carbon prices increase some changes in land use are likely to occur in various regions of the United States.  This study evaluated land management and land use alternatives that are likely to occur with carbon incentives in the northern Great Plains.  Historically, the region has relied heavily on the use of summer fallow; however, producers are finding economic advantages in adopting conservation and no-till systems in continuous cropping practices in the absence of external incentives.  Further, producers in the region have consistently demonstrated a willingness to enroll crop land in long-term conservation programs.  The conversion of crop land to perennial grasses is an alternative land use that has high carbon sequestration potential in the northern Great Plains.  Producers within the region were differentiated by three levels of profitability and by three types of tillage practices.  The highest expected net present value of a future stream of carbon payments and net returns associated with tillage and land use alternatives was determined for each combination of profitability and tillage practice.  Results suggest that by including modest revenues from co-products, perennial grass is not only an economically viable alternative to crop production in the region, but may be economically viable at carbon prices lower than have been previously suggested.  In addition, just as soil type, crop rotations, and tillage practices have been used to differentiate carbon sequestration potential within a given area, this study indicates that profitability measures also should be used to further differentiate the response of producers to carbon incentives.