OpenTEAM Commends USDA For Data-Driven Program To Improve Greenhouse Gas Accounting Accuracy And Build Stakeholder Engagement

Freeport, Maine – OpenTEAM celebrates USDA’s recent investment in improved greenhouse gas measurement, monitoring, reporting and verification of the agriculture and forestry sectors through the Inflation Reduction Act. This new initiative will ensure climate-smart agriculture and its implementation remains rooted in science, using data-driven results to strengthen climate mitigation and adaptation strategies in agriculture and beyond.

Open Technology Ecosystem for Agricultural Management, or OpenTEAM, a global collaborative led by Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture & the Environment, equips food systems leaders with open source digital tools and shared agricultural knowledge to build soil health. In alignment with OpenTEAM’s shared goals, USDA’s timely investment will expand data management, infrastructure, and capacity for greenhouse gas quantification, improve environmental models and tools for measuring greenhouse gas outcomes, and launch a Soil Carbon Monitoring and Research Network. OpenTEAM applauds the USDA for undertaking broad stakeholder engagement to facilitate the delivery of environmental data services and standards as a public good. 

USDA’s strong focus on data and increased stakeholder engagement are critical to advancing climate science and the success of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program. OpenTEAM will leverage USDA’s data management and infrastructure standards directly through the Action for Climate-Smart Agriculture project. This project depends on open standards to improve the accuracy of environmental measurement and modeling tools, building digital marketplaces for climate-smart agricultural products nationwide. 

Wolfe’s Neck Center, OpenTEAM, and our growing community of collaborators share the USDA’s  priority to ensure that climate-smart agricultural practices work well, and act as an impactful nature-based solution to climate change.

Climate Change Research at Wolfe’s Neck Center

Over these past two weeks, COP26, or the Conference of the Parties, held its 26th annual meeting. Also known as the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26 is where nations, indigenous peoples, organizations, and individuals meet to negotiate and discuss how to best mitigate climate change. Conversations such as these, from the local to the global level, are at the center of an ongoing climate crisis.

With a world-wide commitment to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius, the connections between our local and regional food systems to global climate change are becoming increasingly apparent. As agriculture drives almost 20% of global carbon emissions, investing in agricultural research to reduce these emissions is even more necessary to mitigating the climate crisis. 

At Wolfe’s Neck Center, they are implementing regenerative agriculture principles across their farm and through their research initiatives. Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem services through practices such as managed grazing by livestock, cover crops, no-till, and crop diversity. Practices like these can build soil health and help the soil to sequester more carbon, acting as a huge carbon sink and mitigating emissions.

With a mission to transform our relationship with farming and food for a healthier planet, they are committed to propelling the conversation around agriculture’s role in climate change into the national discourse, and to being a leader in driving solutions. They are transforming into a hub for soil health and climate research, demonstration, and education for producers and the public with the intention of inspiring action and innovation.

As the climate crisis continues, it demands those of us in agriculture to take action and find solutions. Wolfe’s Neck Center is extending their focus into the future, using on-site research with clear data to pave the way. Through centering regenerative agriculture principles, they are committed to using this knowledge to further inform environmental and agricultural advances for farmers and researchers.

Research at Wolfe’s Neck Center

Coast-Cow-Consumer (C3)

Coast, Cows, Consumer (C3), originally known as Bovine Burp Busters (B3), is a $3 million grant from the Shelby Cullom Davis Charitable Fund. The project allows Wolfe’s Neck Center researchers, in collaboration with scientists from Bigelow Laboratory, to use Wolfe’s Neck Center’s herd to study the effect of Maine seaweed in a cow’s diet and its potential for methane emissions reduction. In addition to Bigelow Lab and WNC, this collaborative effort is also in partnership with researchers at Colby College and University of Vermont, as well as through testing with the dairy herd at the University of New Hampshire. 

Cattle can release enteric methane, which can become a potent greenhouse gas, making dairy farms a source for reducing emissions at the start. Through this opportunity, Wolfe’s Neck Center is contributing to global advances in the fight against climate change through agriculture. Learn more about this research here.

Crop Diversity on Livestock Farms

The Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant is funding a study that will demonstrate methods for increasing pasture and hay land productivity and soil health through low and no-till establishment of forage crops. Their Northeast pastures are dominated by cool-season grass species that struggle to thrive in the hot and dry summer months and lead to low feed quality for dairy cows. The solution may be in more weather resilient warm season forages. These are often more drought tolerant and grow rapidly in the summer months, in turn providing high quality feed all year and improved soil health. This grant will be used to assess how warm-season annuals (yearly plants that grow best at warmer temperatures) could be integrated into Northeast dairy grazing systems to provide quality forage for livestock year-round. Learn more about the grant here.


In the last week of October, OpenTEAM leadership met at Wolfe’s Neck Center to reflect on current collaborative approaches, discuss potential opportunities for increased training and certification in soil health tools, and begin to develop a strategy for scaling.

OpenTEAM began in 2019 in partnership with Wolfe’s Neck Center, Stonyfield, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, and USDA’s LandPKS to provide community support for agriculture and soil health through interoperable tools for land stewards. With the goal of democratizing access to agricultural knowledge across the food system, OpenTEAM believes agriculture should be considered a public science in order to progress farming forward.

OpenTEAM offers field-level carbon measurement, digital management records, remote sensing, predictive analytics, and input and economic management decision support in a connected technology toolkit that supports adaptive soil health management for farms of all scales, geographies and production systems. Healthier soils mean more carbon sequestration. Since the initial launch, OpenTEAM has grown into a larger collaborative of farmers, ranchers, scientists, researchers, technologists, farm service providers, and food companies who are not only co-creating equitable toolkits for all land stewards, but are tackling complex problems such as ecosystem services markets and agricultural data management and sovereignty.

OpenTEAM: A Reintroduction

This October, we are celebrating our second year anniversary! As we celebrate, we would like to celebrate all we have accomplished while welcoming newcomers and introducing them to the work that we do!

Based at Wolfe’s Neck Center in Freeport, Maine, OpenTEAM was founded in 2019 by Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment, Stonyfield, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s LandPKS.

OpenTEAM is a farmer-driven, collaborative community of farmers, ranchers, scientists, researchers, technologists, farm service providers, and food companies who are co-creating an interoperable suite of tools that provide farmers around the world with the best possible knowledge to improve soil health. 

Why OpenTEAM?

Agriculture is responsible for almost 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The way we manage our land has to change dramatically in order to combat climate change. Improving soil health through regenerative agriculture practices can help our soils to capture more carbon, benefiting the farmer, the plants and animals they cultivate, and the food we eat. Wolfe’s Neck Center believes farming has to be a part of the solution to climate change. By creating an interoperable technology ecosystem and supporting a global network of farmers, the OpenTEAM initiative is working towards improving soil health measures and sequestering more carbon into the soil across the globe.

By building an interoperable, equitable and re-usable digital infrastructure, OpenTEAM will reduce costs and friction, thereby accelerating regenerative agriculture and associated global and local development benefits.

What does "interoperable" mean?

The word interoperable refers to the ability of different systems, such as computers or technological tools, to exchange and share information with one another. Making agricultural technology more interoperable means farmers and ranchers can use multiple tools to track things like their farm management or organic certification without having to enter data multiple times. Instead, they can enter it once and the interoperability of their tools will allow them to use that data multiple times.​

How does OpenTEAM work?

OpenTEAM is forging ahead to transform agriculture as we know it. By using a pre-competitive approach, we are co-developing a collaborative technology ecosystem with the support of a growing group of stakeholders. Through the creation of open feedback loops with Hubs and Network farms and ranches, we emphasize human centered design throughout every aspect of this ecosystem. OpenTEAM and its suite of tools is constantly evolving to accommodate different needs and systems.

OpenTEAM’s Hub farms, members, and network farmers primarily collaborate through working groups, which meet on a regular basis to tackle top priorities in technology, equity, field methods, and human centered design. This work is grounded through our Hub and Network working group, where farmers and ranchers test OpenTEAM’s suite of tools on the ground and provide feedback for growth and improvement.

Another way OpenTEAM works together is through Collabathons. These are sustained collaboration efforts with short sprints in service of long range shared goals. Each series of Collabathons have a defined goal, outcome, and proposed output shaped by a community co-hosts. Members come together over structured 8 week sessions that bridge across our diverse membership and enable us to bring in key folks around particular questions and long-term goals such as the creation of overarching field methods for testing soil carbon to the development of an agricultural data wallet where farmers can manage how they share and protect their own data.

OpenTEAM, in conjunction with Wolfe’s Neck Center, is also equipping food system leaders of the future with the knowledge and capabilities necessary to combat climate change and improve soil health through a budding fellowship program which strengthens the support for our Hub and Network farms and ranches.

What kind of tools does OpenTEAM share with farmers and ranchers?

OpenTEAM collaborates with a wide variety of tech partners who design, develop, and co-create tools for the benefit of farmers and ranchers. Some help land stewards to measure the amount of carbon in their soil, others help them to better manage their farms and ranches. OpenTEAM is constantly working with its Hubs and network farms to test these tools and make them better through open avenues of feedback and communication.

What is soil health?

Healthy soil is critical to cooling the planet. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is a key part of the solution to this global problem. Soil is a living ecosystem that contains bacteria, fungi, insects, and organic matter that thrive when the other soil elements are in balance. If these elements are thriving, the plants and animals that we eat will as well. By minimizing erosion, maximizing water infiltration, and improving nutrient cycling through regenerative farming practices, farmers and ranchers can enhance the resiliency of their land. By building better soil health, our soils can absorb more carbon and support our growing food system.

What is regenerative agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem services through practices such as managed grazing by livestock, cover crops, no-till, and crop diversity. Finding solutions to the growing climate crisis relies on both limiting greenhouse gas emissions AND capturing carbon in the soil. The world’s soils store several times the amount of carbon as does the atmosphere, acting as a natural “carbon sink.” Healthy soil captures more carbon. By building soil health through regenerative practices, we can farm in a way that solves the problems we face now and makes our farmland more resilient for the future of food and our planet.