Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Greenhouse gas calculator connects farming practices with carbon credits

Date:
August 12, 2010
Source:
American Society of Agronomy
Summary:
Using a web-based greenhouse gas calculator, researchers demonstrate how farming practices can influence greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenhouse gas markets, where invisible gases are traded, must seem like black boxes to most people. Farmers can make money on these markets, such as the Chicago Climate Exchange, by installing methane capture technologies in animal-based systems, no-till farming, establishing grasslands, and planting trees.

Farmers, students, extension educators, offset aggregators, and other stakeholders need to understand how to change farming practices to maximize their potential economic returns in these new markets.

To open the black box, researchers at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, including Claire P. McSwiney, Sven Bohm, Peter R. Grace, and G. Philip Robertson, developed the Farming Systems Greenhouse Gas Emissions Calculator, a simple web-based tool to help users make economically and environmentally sound decisions.

The first page of the calculator asks users to choose a county of interest from anywhere in the US. An input/output window allows them to choose which crops they will grow, yields, tillage practices, and nitrogen fertilizer rates. Default values based on localized USDA statistics are provided as a starting point.

Given the farming practices chosen, the calculator tells the user how much carbon was stored in the soil or lost to the atmosphere, nitrous oxide (a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide) lost from the soil in response to fertilizer application, carbon dioxide produced by tractors, and carbon dioxide produced in manufacturing the fertilizer.

In an article in the 2010 Journal of Natural Resources and Life Science Education, published by the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America, the authors used the calculator to demonstrate how tillage compares with no-till in a three-year rotation of corn, soybean, and wheat.

Whether tilled or untilled, corn years always had the largest greenhouse gas losses due to large fertilizer additions. Wheat requires less fertilizer and soybeans require none. No-till management reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 50% due to soil carbon storage.

In another comparison, the amount of fertilizer applied was changed from 134 to 101 kg. Such a reduction could be achieved without a yield penalty by more precisely applying fertilizers or by using new fertilizer recommendations. Excess nitrogen in soil is readily transformed to nitrous oxide. By simply reducing fertilizer applications, the cropping system reduced greenhouse gas emissions 12%.

In an Environmental Science class at Kalamazoo College, the authors used the calculator for an in-class exercise. Using the farming systems calculator allowed students to take control and make the management changes they had been discussing for weeks. By making the management decisions themselves and 'seeing' what happened to soil carbon, the connections between changes in farm practices and the potential for economic gain became much clearer.

Farmers and other agricultural professionals can use the program to participate in similar exercises. By comparing different cropping scenarios against one another, the practices with the most promise for mitigating atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations become readily apparent. Those not familiar with agriculture learn how certain farming practices can have a positive environmental impact.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society of Agronomy. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Claire McSwiney. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Calculator for Grain and Biofuel Farming Systems. Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education, 2010; 39 (1): 125 DOI: 10.4195/jnrlse.2009.0021

Cite This Page:

American Society of Agronomy. "Greenhouse gas calculator connects farming practices with carbon credits." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100809093643.htm>.
American Society of Agronomy. (2010, August 12). Greenhouse gas calculator connects farming practices with carbon credits. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100809093643.htm
American Society of Agronomy. "Greenhouse gas calculator connects farming practices with carbon credits." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100809093643.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) A study released Monday suggests dolphins might be able to sense the Earth's magnetic field and possibly use it as a means of navigation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How To Battle Stink Bug Season

How To Battle Stink Bug Season

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) Homeowners in 33 states grapple with stink bugs moving indoors at this time of year. Here are a few tips to avoid stink bug infestations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins