Policy makers are expected to focus on ways of reducing nitrous oxide emissions. In Europe, for example, to earn farm subsidies, growers must apply nitrogen below capped levels.

Robertson is hoping that a carrot approach will be used in the U.S. through the emerging market for carbon credits. He is currently conducting research sponsored by the Electric Power Research Institute, a consortium of electric power companies, to examine the practicality of including nitrous oxide mitigation in the carbon market.

“If we can convince the prime exchanges to accept nitrous oxide as a carbon credit, that will expand the opportunities for farmers,” Robertson says.