Nitrogen Management Project Protocol Development

Proposed Protocol Expansion

In January 2013, the Packard Foundation awarded grant funding to the Reserve in order to explore the potential for an expansion of the Nitrogen Management Project Protocol. The undertaking had the two-part goal of building out and formalizing the new data submittal and assessment process, and taking a pre-selected, high-quality data set through the process. As a case study, the Reserve worked closely with Ardell Halvorson and Steve Del Grosso at Colorado State University to evaluate their study (Halvorson et al., 2013) on N2O emissions from fertilizer management on irrigated corn in Colorado against the Minimum Data Standard. The assessment of the Colorado data set was very positive overall, meeting or exceeding most criteria in the Minimum Data Standard. However, the Reserve determined that it could not use the Colorado data set to move forward with an expansion at this time, as it failed to meet Reserve criteria in one critical area: replication of the study in other study sites (i.e. other sites within the county, state, region). See the resources below for more information:

Version 1.1

The Nitrogen Management Project Protocol underwent a technical update to Version 1.1. The revision expands protocol applicability to tile drained fields in the North Central Region, allows for projects to be implemented on land designated as highly erodible land (HEL) with USDA conservation plans in place, and incorporates a number of technical revisions to improve clarity.

Public Comment Period

Noel Gurwick and Christina Tonitto Union of Concerned Scientists

Version 1.0

The Reserve began scoping agriculture protocols in October 2010 and began actively developing the Nitrogen Management Project Protocol in April 2011. The technical workgroup met from April 2011 to April 2012 to refine the draft protocol. A public workshop was held in May 2012 to discuss the draft protocol which was available for public comment through April and May 2012. The final protocol was approved by the Reserve Board on June 27, 2012.

Public Comments

Ag Carbon Market Working Group SES, Inc.
California Compost Coalition Sieglinde Snapp, Michigan State University
Camco The Climate Trust
Chris Gambino, Washington State University Union of Concerned Scientists
Environmental Defense Fund Union of Concerned Scientists, Meredith Niles, Christina Tonitto
G. Philip Robertson, Michigan State University, Neville Millar, Michigan State University, and Adam Diamant, Electric Power Research Institute WaterBalance LLC
Garrison Sposito, University of California at Berkeley Weyerhaeuser Company
Lowell E. Gentry, University of Illinois Willamette Partnership
National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Union of Concerned Scientists, Meredith Niles, Christina Tonitto

Public Workshop

The Reserve hosted a public workshop on May 9, 2012 in Sacramento, CA, to provide a venue for feedback on the draft Nitrogen Management Project Protocol. Workshop materials and meeting video are available below.

Reserve Presentation
Meeting Video


The Reserve worked closely with a multi-stakeholder workgroup to develop the Nitrogen Management Project Protocol. The workgroup included industry representatives, federal agency personnel, environmental organizations, verifiers and expert consultants. The workgroup included representatives from:

Ag Refresh Scotia Capital, Inc.
Blue Source Stanford Law School
Camco UC Davis
The Clark Group, LLC / Agricultural Carbon Market Working Group UC Davis, Agricultural Sustainability Institute
Environmental Defense Fund Union of Concerned Scientists
Environmental Services, Inc. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, West National Technology Support Center
Independent Scientist, Ecosystem Modeling U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Michigan State University Western Growers Association
Natural Resources Defense Council Western United Dairymen
Preferred Carbon Group
Workgroup Meetings

Science Advisory Committee

    The Reserve together with the Nicholas Institute of Duke University assembled a group of leading scientific experts to form a Science Advisory Committee (SAC). The purpose of the SAC was to help the Reserve interpret and apply the best available science into the Nitrogen Management Project Protocol. Committee membership was by invitation from the Reserve and the Nicholas Institute and was based on scientific expertise, knowledge of GHG offset protocol development issues, and explicit interest in translating research into GHG mitigation policy applications for agriculture.

    The Reserve held an all-day workshop for the SAC on September 7, 2011 and the summary report is available below.

    SAC Meeting Summary (November 22, 2011)

Credit Stacking Subcommittee


Documents that generally supported the development of the Nitrogen Management Project Protocol are available below.