During a meeting on Sept. 18, the Fertilizer Inspection Advisory Board, which advises the secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), recommended approval of a $150,000 research project to measure emission rates of nitrous oxide gases from fertilizer applications. Nitrous oxide is a major greenhouse gas that reacts with ozone in the stratosphere. The project would be administered by California State University, Fresno.

Additionally, the Board approved an additional $180,000 to fund extra staffing within CDFA to augment the department’s efforts to pro-actively address the issue of global warming. Both items will be solely funded by contributions from the fertilizer industry.

“We congratulate the actions by the Fertilizer Inspection Advisory Board in addressing this issue,” said Renee Pinel, CEO and president of the Western Plant Health Association. The non-profit trade group – that represents the fertilizer industry – has been working with CDFA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to help answer questions about whether fertilizers are significant contributors to global warming.

“This funding is a great example of the fertilizer industry’s ongoing commitment to pro-active environmental stewardship and represents an important step in agriculture’s ability to accurately determine if any steps need to be taken to mitigate greenhouse gases from fertilizers,” Pinel added.

In 2006, the California Legislature passed the “Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.” The initiative requires CARB to develop regulations to reduce greenhouse gases which result from human activity. As a part of the initiative, CARB is reviewing the impact agriculture may have on greenhouse gas emissions and whether regulations would be appropriate to reduce any impacts.