(AUSTIN, TX — May 18, 2021) The National Science Foundation awarded its Smart and Connected Communities grant to Austin-based research organization Pecan Street Inc. The project team will explore opportunities and barriers for the adoption of regenerative farming practices, and seeks to better understand collective decision-making about land use management by regional farming communities.

This one-year planning grant supports Pecan Street’s preparation for a multi-year, multi-million dollar grant that will bring together the nation’s leading soil scientists and social scientists with Pecan Street’s award-winning engineering team to design an integrative research project that will lay the technological and social foundations for facilitating regenerative farmland management.

“Our goal is to scale regenerative farming practices, and to do that we’re expanding on existing greenhouse gas measurement and verification systems with the deployment of a sensor-based technology solution,” said Pecan Street Inc. CEO Suzanne Russo. “We’re also working to better understand how farmers adopt these technology solutions and how collective decision-making in farming communities could scale the ecosystem benefits from regenerative farming practices.”

The project will enhance and expand on the existing COMET-Farm greenhouse gas accounting system with state-of-the-art sensors and geospatial datasets to better facilitate landscape-scale assessments for rural communities.

“This project allows us to develop new methods to build on existing farm greenhouse gas assessment tools with high volumes of new sensor data,” said Dr. Keith Paustian, university distinguished professor in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Colorado State University. “These new data are an important step towards creating the soil carbon measurement and verification system needed to scale-up soil carbon markets and widespread adoption of regenerative farming practices.”

The team will pilot this system in select communities with the goal of encouraging farmers to move from individual-level decision-making toward collective decisions about regenerative farmland management that will result in improved, marketable carbon sequestration and ecosystem service provisioning.

“To scale the adoption and benefits of regenerative farming, we need farming communities to work together,” said Dr. Richard Stedman, professor of natural resources at Cornell University. “Our goal is to better understand how farmers adopt new technologies and how collective decision making in farming communities can lead to greater adoption of regenerative farming practices and create new economic opportunities for farmers while enhancing the quality of the environment for all community residents.”

Pecan Street’s research database, Dataport, will be extended to include soil health and ecosystem service data generated by the new sensors deployed through the project. The data will be available to university researchers to accelerate the development of cropland management best practices across a range of agricultural practices.

About Pecan Street Inc.

Pecan Street is internationally renowned for its pioneering research model that integrates communities, technology developers, data scientists, and advocates to accelerate the pace of innovation for climate and conservation solutions. Pecan Street applies a high-impact research and development approach to areas with high potential to serve as cost-effective climate solutions that are impeded by lack of data and technology readiness.

Pecan Street provides university researchers, utilities, and technology companies with access to the world’s best original data on consumer energy and water consumption behavior, testing and verification of technology solutions, and commercialization services.

Its network of over 1,200 research volunteers is the first of its kind on the planet. Its anonymized research database, the largest source of disaggregated customer energy data, is used by thousands of university researchers from universities in over 60 nations and industry-leading companies around the world.

Pecan Street is a 501(c)(3) applied research and commercialization institute. Learn more at pecanstreet.org.


Colin Rowan, Pecan Street, media@pecanstreet.org, 512-222-9603