GHGMP News Releases

Field-ready kits will help explain the greenhouse gas process

Calgary, Alta. and Indian Head, Sask., March 30, 2005

Improved testing tools will soon provide Canadian farmers and ranchers with a clearer picture of the difference improved management techniques make in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

A series of field testing kits developed and tested over the past 18 months and being made available to extension specialists will help generate faster results on various soil quality factors and greenhouse gas emission levels as different management techniques are compared.

Being able to measure and quantify changes in gas emissions will provide tangible evidence to the frontline forces that improved production practices do make a difference.

"The value is that people involved in research and demonstration projects will be able to collect gas samples as the work is being done," says Dr. David Burton, research chair in climate change at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Truro. "Now we will not only be able to say a certain practice makes a difference in greenhouse gas emissions, we will be able to quantify it."

The kits are being developed in a collaborative effort between Burton and Dr. David Lobb, Associate Professor, Department of Soil Science, University of Manitoba.

The four kits include a Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Kit, a Soil Quality Monitoring Kit, which was actually developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a Soil Environment Monitoring Kit, with components similar to a weather station, and a Soil Carbon Monitoring Kit. The gas monitoring kit, the soil quality kit, and the environment monitoring kit are completed and ready for use. Burton still has a few technical bugs to work out of the carbon monitoring kit, but hopes to have it ready later this year.

The field test kits are being developed as part of the federal Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Program (GHGMP) for Canadian Agriculture. It's a national program designed to demonstrate a wide range of good production practices, through hundreds of on-farm demonstration projects in different agricultural sectors, all aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

With all these demonstrations being done, it was felt it would be beneficial to have the tools available to make a range of measurements.

The $91,500 project received funds from the GHGMP beef sector, which is administered by the Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA), the GHGMP soil and nutrient management sector, administered by Soil Conservation Council of Canada (SCCC), and the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Scientific Working Group associated with the program.

"The use of the field test kits to measure soil greenhouse gas emissions will be an interesting component of some of our demonstration projects this summer," says Pat Walker, GHGMP beef project co-ordinator in Calgary. "Besides the numerous visible and tangible benefits to be seen on well managed grazing systems, being able to quantify emissions levels may help producers to relate better to the greenhouse gas mitigation value of different grazing management systems and the wise use of soil amendments such as manure and compost."

The kits will be a useful tool for increasing producer awareness and understanding of the whole greenhouse gas emissions issue, adds Doug McKell, co-ordinator of the GHGMP soils and nutrient management sections and SCCC executive director.

"Soil Conservation Council of Canada believes the kits will help producers understand how improved management practices can enhance the soil such that the result is an overall reduction in greenhouse gasses," says McKell. "Extension is valuable part in showing producers how changes in practices make a difference."

For more details on the test kits and other greenhouse gas mitigation projects, see the features sections on the respective SCCC and CCA websites. For soil-related projects go to the SCCC website at and follow the links under the GHGMP section, and for beef-related projects visit the CCA website at, go to the Stewardship section and follow the links.

The idea is to simplify the testing process. "We're talking about kits that fit in a tool box and are carried out to the field," says Burton. "The kits have either the components to produce test results right in the field, or at least enable the technician to collect proper samples for analysis." And you don't have to be a researcher to use the kits either, adds Burton. "They are designed so anyone with training in agricultural science can follow the procedure."

For more information, contact:

Dr. Dave Burton
Nova Scotia Agricultural College
Turro, NS
Phone: (902) 893-6250>

Pat Walker
GHGMP - Beef Project Co-ordinator
Calgary, AB
Phone: (403) 601-8991

Doug McKell,
Executive Director, SCCC
Indian Head, Sask.
Phone: (306) 695-4212