Climate Change & Agriculture
Glossary of Terms: Agriculture
Aerobic: Requiring, or not destroyed by, the presence of free elemental oxygen.
Aerosols: Solid or liquid particles suspended within the atmosphere (see also: "black carbon aerosols").
Anaerobic: Requiring, or not destroyed by, the absence of air or free oxygen.
Anaerobic Digestion: The degradation of organic matter (e.g., manure) through the action of microorganisms in the absence of elemental oxygen.
Aquifer: A geological formation that contains sufficient saturated material to yield significant quantities of water to wells and springs.
Base Year: A targeted year for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. In the Kyoto Protocol, 1990 is the base year for most countries and is the base year used by Montana.
Best Practice Management (BPM): A practice, or set of practices, found to be most effective from an economic and/or institutional perspective.
Biodiesel: A domestically-produced fuel for diesel engines derived from natural oils, such as camelina, canola, mustard, soybean, or other crops (or animal fats). It is typically produced by a chemical reaction between this oil and an alcohol such as methanol, in the presence of a catalyst, to yield the fuel and a glycerin byproduct. Biodiesel can be used in any concentration with petroleum based diesel fuel in existing diesel engines with little or no modification. The “B” in biodiesel blends designates the quantity of biodiesel (e.g., B-80 is 80 percent biodiesel and 20 percent conventional diesel).
Biomass: Plant and/or or animal matter that is capable of, or in a state of, decay.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2): A colorless, odorless, non-poisonous gas that is a normal part of ambient and atmospheric air. The main one of six gases generally agreed to be greenhouse gases. Human activities such as fossil fuel combustion and land use changes have increased atmospheric concentrations of CO2. Carbon dioxide is the standard used to measure other greenhouse gases, and is expressed as CO2-equivalent.
Conservation Tillage: Typically defined as any tillage and planting system in which 30 percent or more of the crop residue remains on the soil after planting. This disturbs the soil less, and therefore allows soil carbon to accumulate. There are different kinds of conservation tillage systems, including no-till, ridge till, minimum till and mulch till.
Carbon Sink: Natural processes that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than they release over a given period of time. Terrestrial carbon sinks include forest biomasses, rangeland, and certain agricultural acreages. The oceans are also carbon sinks.
Climate Change: This general term refers to changes in long-term trends in the average climate, such as changes in average temperatures. For this website, climate change refers to any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity.
COMET-VR (CarbOn Management Evaluation Tool - Voluntary Reporting): An online management tool that provides a simple and reliable method to estimate changes in soil carbon sequestration, fuel, and fertilizer use resulting from changes in land management.
Consumptive Use (water): The portion of withdrawn water used or consumed by crops, humans, or livestock, or industry.
Discount Rate: The interest rate used to convert future payments into present values.
Emissions: The release of substances (e.g., greenhouse gases) into the atmosphere.
Emissions Trading: A market where countries, companies or facilities can buy emissions from or sell emissions to other emitters. Emissions trading may lower the cost of meeting emission targets. Some entities may achieve reductions at a comparatively low cost, for example. Reductions below a given level could then be sold on a world market to those for whom achieving reductions is more costly.
Ethanol: A clear, colorless, flammable oxygenated hydrocarbon (chemical formula C2 H5 OH). Agricultural alcohol in Montana in most contexts is produced as a fuel and is generally fermented and distilled from any of a variety of grains (starch-based), cellulose (cellulosic-based), or other sources.
Evapotranspiration: The process by which water re-enters the atmosphere through evaporation from the ground and transpiration by plants.
Fallow: An agricultural practice, typically on non-irrigated acreage, where the ground is left idle for a growing season to accumulate soil moisture.
Farm Energy Calculator: Farm energy calculators are planning tools designed to help producers save electrical energy, fuel or fossil-fuel-based fertilizers. Visit the site http://attra.ncat.org/energy_calculators.html for more information about the variety of calculators available online.
Flood Irrigation: An irrigation practice that spreads water on the land surface from open field ditches or other conveyance systems.
Instream: Water used within the stream channel for such purposes as hydroelectric power generation, navigation, water-quality improvement, fish and wildlife propagation, and recreation. Sometimes called nonwithdrawal use or inchannel use.
Irrigation: The delivery of surface-sourced or ground-sourced water to crops. The two main types are flood irrigation and sprinkler irrigation. The latter delivers water via pipes to any of several stationary or mobile delivery systems. The center-pivot system is becoming more commonplace in Montana. Visit the site http://attra.ncat.org/ for information on sprinkler systems, their maintenance, and water conservation aspects, or order a copy of the Montana Irrigators Handbook through the same website.
Greenhouse Gas (GHG): Any of a variety of gases known to be transparent to incoming solar radiation but capable of absorbing reflected infrared radiation from the Earth’s surface. The principal greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and chlorofluorocarbons, among others. Greenhouse gases other than CO2 or often converted into CO2-equivalents.
Methane (CH4): Methane is among six gases identified for their contribution to the greenhouse effect and global warming. Atmospheric CH4 is produced by natural processes, but substantial emissions come from human activities such as landfills, livestock and livestock wastes, natural gas and petroleum production, coal mines, and wastewater treatment. For modeling and forecasting purposes, methane is usually converted and expressed as CO2-equivalent.
Nitrous Oxide (N2O): Nitrous oxide is among six greenhouse gases identified under the Kyoto Protocol. It is produced by natural processes, but substantial emissions stem from human activities such as agriculture and fossil fuel combustion. For modeling and forecasting purposes, nitrous oxide is usually converted and expressed as CO2-equivalent.
No-till: An agricultural practice where weed management and crop preparation is accomplished either chemically or biologically with little or no disturbance of the topsoil. A crop is typically directly seeded into the previous crop’s standing or processed stubble. The soil may be sliced or drilled into for seed placement. No-till is one of several conservation tillage methods that preserve soil carbon.
Seed Potato: Potatoes grown for seed stock. Montana is a major producer of seed potato due to favorable climatic and soil conditions, particularly in the western mountain valleys.
Sequestration: The removal of CO2, either through biological processes (e.g., plants and trees), or by geological processes through storage of CO2 in underground reservoirs (e.g., salt domes, limestone deposits). Certain biological sequestration strategies assume the CO2 will be stored for at least 100 years, such as in forest fibers and in geological formations. Some biological sequestration approaches capture carbon over relatively short periods of time but cycle the carbon quickly as well. Geological strategies may involve concentration, compression, and transportation of the CO2 (see also, pre-combustion and post-combustion sequestration).
Sink: See Carbon Sink.
Spring Wheat: A general term for wheat that is planted in the spring and harvested in summer. About half of Montana’s wheat harvest consists of spring wheat varieties.
Winter Wheat: A general term for wheat that is planted in the fall and harvested in summer. About half of Montana’s wheat harvest consists of fall-planted wheat varieties.