Conant, Richard (Colorado State University, Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO, 80523-1499; Phone: 970-491-1919; Fax: 970-491-1965; Email:


Costs and Benefits of Reducing Uncertainty in Accounting for Soil C Credits


R.T. Conant *, S. Mooney, K. Gerow


The ability of agricultural producers to compete economically against other sectors within a market for C-credits and capitalize upon soil C sequestration depends in part upon the cost of creating C-credits and our technological capability to measure the quantity of C-credits produced at low cost. Although C pools are variable and influenced by many factors, several studies have shown that field sampling and modeling procedures are effective at estimating changes in agricultural soil C sequestration at scales varying from field to nation.  A few studies have tied to estimate the costs associated with measuring C-credits from agricultural soils as well as the factors that influence measurement costs. Their results suggest that a combination of modeling and field soil sampling could be a low cost method of measuring soil C-credits sold under a market based trading scheme. Modeled estimates of soil C sequestration have also been considered in programs that reward producers for changing practices rather than explicitly tying payments to the number of C credits produced. To date, little attention has been paid to the implications of the presence of uncertainty in modeled predictions of changes in soil C and their impacts on sampling and other contract costs.  This paper examines the costs/benefits of reducing uncertainty associated with estimating soil C and how reducing uncertainty affects the costs of implementing agreements for soil C credits.