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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Enabling Management Response of Southeastern Agricultural Crop and Pasture Systems to Climate Change

Location: National Soil Dynamics Laboratory

Title: The importance of determining carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas mitigation potential in ornamental horticulture

Authors
item Marble, S -
item Prior, Stephen
item Runion, George
item Torbert, Henry
item Gilliam, Charles -
item Fain, Glenn -

Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 9, 2010
Publication Date: February 11, 2011
Citation: Marble, S.C., Prior, S.A., Runion, G.B., Torbert III, H.A., Gilliam, C.H., Fain, G.B. 2011. The importance of determining carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas mitigation potential in ornamental horticulture. HortScience. 46(2):240-244.

Interpretive Summary: The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is increasing. Much of the research on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon sequestration has been conducted in row crop and forest systems; however, virtually no work has focused on the contribution from sectors of the specialty crop industry such as ornamental horticulture. As with all industries, horticulture has the potential to negatively impact the global atmosphere, but it also has the potential to improve atmospheric greenhouse gas conditions through the sequestering of carbon in urban and suburban landscapes. Our preliminary data shows production and outplanting of ornamental crops could prove to be a significant carbon sink given the quantity of carbon accumulated in biomass and that added to the soil as growth media. At present it is unknown how the carbon sequestration ability of the ornamental horticulture industry compares with that of other systems (e.g. row crops and forests). Nonetheless, the ornamental horticulture industry provides the average U.S. homeowner an ability to participate in reducing their carbon footprint by landscaping their yards while increasing property values in the process.

Technical Abstract: Over the past three decades, one issue which has received significant attention from the scientific community is climate change and the possible impacts on the global environment. Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration, along with other trace gases [i.e., methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O)] are widely believed to be the driving factors behind global warming. Much of the work on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and carbon (C) sequestration has been conducted in row crop and forest systems; however, virtually no work has focused on contributions from sectors of the specialty crop industry such as ornamental horticulture. Ornamental horticulture is an industry which impacts rural, suburban, and urban landscapes. While this industry may have some negative impacts on the global environment (e.g., CO2 and trace gas efflux), it also has potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase C sequestration. The work described here outlines the causes and environmental impacts of climate change, the role of agriculture in reducing emissions and sequestering C, and potential areas in ornamental horticulture container-grown plant production in which practices could be altered to increase C sequestration and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

Last Modified: 12/18/2014
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