A Look Back and a Glimpse into 2009

A Look Back and a Glimpse into 2009

By Karen A. Scanlon

Although it doesn't seem possible, we are nearing the end of another year. Soon we are giving thanks for the good things in our lives and making plans for new accomplishments and adventures for the year ahead.

CTIC is thankful for each of our members and partners across the country. Thanks to your support, we have grown in 2008 and added to our list of successes. We welcomed 52 new members this year. We've added new member benefits this year, too, including the Conservation In Action Tour, a summer event that brought together nearly 100 members and partners to see first-hand how producers are making conservation profitable and sustainable. I hope you all will join us in 2009 for the Tour in western Illinois (see more details).

CTIC broke new ground this year, too, with new workshops and conferences on important topics for agriculture. In August, CTIC hosted a pilot workshop in Ohio that brought together agricultural producers and advisors and wastewater and energy utilities to learn about water quality credit trading. The positive feedback we received on the format and content of the workshop was inspiring and will help us to deliver three more workshops in 2009.

In September, CTIC was awarded a Conservation Innovation Grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service(NRCS) for a project that promotes the use of cover crops to transition producers to a continuous no-till farming system. Working with partners in Ohio and Indiana, we are pairing producers and crop consultants to work together to identify and incorporate cover crops into their new system. We will track progress and report results as producers begin the transition in spring. Next year, we'll offer workshops and networking meetings to spark new ideas and information exchange among producers, consultants and researchers.

Just last month, CTIC partnered with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to host the Conservation Agriculture Carbon Offset Consultation, an international conference that explored conservation agriculture's role in mitigating climate change. During this working meeting (access here) , researchers and practitioners from around the world focused on science, economics, brainstorming and collaboration about carbon trading. The three-day event yielded some very significant conclusions:

• There is good science to describe and quantify the role that farmers around the world can play using conservation agriculture to sequester carbon in the soil.

• Soil carbon offsets have been shown to work in greenhouse gas emissions trading markets. What farmers need are policies and markets that make soil carbon a widely tradable, profitable commodity.

• More research will yield even greater insight on how and where farmers can be most effective in sequestering carbon.

CTIC has posted presentations from the Consultation on our Web site.

Attendees worked together to produce two documents at the end of the Consultation. An issue statement targeted to policymakers and influencers worldwide is designed to be a tool that all conservation advocates can distribute and use to educate and inform in their areas. It is a call for the support of further, deeper scientific inquiry into soil carbon. It is also a call for the establishment of policies and markets that recognize the value of soil carbon as a tool to help us address global greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the value of farmers in helping efficiently sequester millions of tons of carbon.

The second document, providing background and supporting information about the importance of soil carbon sequestration in conservation agriculture, is designed to accompany the issue statement and provide additional information to the reader. Both documents can be found on CTIC's Web site.

Throughout 2008, the newly forming Conservation Agriculture Systems Alliance (CASA) has continued to grow and strengthen network connections among its members – groups across North America focused on conservation agriculture. In late October, CASA members met to discuss the consistent message about the ideal conservation agriculture system that the network will promote, as well as how to engage more organizations in North America and connect with counterparts in South America. CASA's future plans include a meeting with members of CAAPAS, the Brazil-based American Confederation of Farmers Organizations for Sustainable Agriculture, next August. CTIC will keep you informed as this important network continues to expand.

CTIC is proud of our accomplishments in 2008, and we thank each member for making it all possible. We invite you to stay informed – through Partners, Member Mail and frequent visits to our web site – and get involved in 2009. We soon will be announcing dates and details for water quality credit trading workshops, cover crop workshops and networking sessions and more. And, don't forget to mark your calendar for the Conservation In Action Tour on July 29, 2009.