A novel framework for analysis of cross-media environmental effects from agricultural conservation practices

Carson J. Reeling, Benjamin M. Gramig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Agricultural ecosystems are a source of greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions and losses of nutrients to waterways. Several studies have recognized this and have documented the potential to reduce GHG fluxes and nutrient loss to waterways by using carbon offsets to fund the implementation of land retirement and afforestation. However, the ability to use land for both agricultural production and environmental conservation is also important. This study develops a novel analytical framework that is used to examine the cross-media (water and air) environmental effects of implementing offset-funded conservation practices in a working-lands setting. The framework is applied to a case study which examines the extent to which carbon pricing can affect practice implementation costs and the optimal distribution of these practices throughout an agricultural watershed. Results indicate that carbon offsets can reduce conservation practice implementation costs and have the potential to reduce greater amounts of nonpoint source pollution for a given cost of implementation. This conclusion has significant implications for policymaking, particularly with regard to using markets for GHG emissions to achieve water quality improvements where water quality trading or government conservation programs have historically been unsuccessful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-51
Number of pages8
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Agricultural conservation practices
  • Genetic algorithm
  • Greenhouse gases
  • Nonpoint source pollution
  • SWAT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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