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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Management Practices to Mitigate Global Climate Change, Enhance Bio-Energy Production, Increase Soil-C Stocks & Sustain Soil Productivity...

Location: Soil Plant Nutrient Research (SPNR)

Title: Reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions: role of biotechnology, organic systems, and consumer behavior

Authors
item DEL GROSSO, STEPHEN
item Grant, Douglas -

Submitted to: Carbon Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 10, 2011
Publication Date: October 1, 2011
Citation: Del Grosso, S.J., Grant, D. 2011. Reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions: role of biotechnology, organic systems, and consumer behavior. Carbon Management. 2(5); 505-508.

Interpretive Summary: All agricultural systems have environmental and societal costs and benefits that should be objectively quantified before recommending specific management practices. Agricultural biotechnology, which takes advantage of genetically engineered organisms, along with organic cropping systems, economic incentives, and human attitudinal changes are all needed to accomplish food production and environmental goals. Agricultural systems are a source of water and air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. Cropped and grazed soils are the primary anthropogenic source of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that also is thought to be the dominant ozone depleting substance. Livestock production is an important anthropogenic source of methane, another greenhouse gas, as well other gases, such as ammonia, that impact air quality. Globally, land use conversion to agricultural production is a major source of carbon dioxide, but well managed cropped and grazed systems can sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide and agricultural soils are thought to be a net carbon dioxide sink in the USA. Fortunately, there are available technologies to both reduce the nitrous oxide and methane sources and increase the carbon dioxide sink of agricultural systems at both the national and global scales.

Technical Abstract: All agricultural systems have environmental and societal costs and benefits that should be objectively quantified before recommending specific management practices. Agricultural biotechnology, which takes advantage of genetically engineered organisms (GEOs), along with organic cropping systems, economic incentives, and human attitudinal changes are all needed to accomplish food production and environmental goals. Agricultural systems are a source of water and air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. Cropped and grazed soils are the primary anthropogenic source of nitrous oxide (N2O), a biogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) that also is thought to be the dominant stratospheric ozone depleting substance (Ravishankara et al. 2009). Livestock production is an important anthropogenic source of methane, another GHG, as well other gases, such as ammonia, that impact air quality. Globally, land use conversion to agricultural production is a major source of carbon dioxide (CO2), but well managed cropped and grazed systems can sequester atmospheric CO2 and agricultural soils are thought to be a net CO2 sink in the USA (EPA 2011). Fortunately, there are available technologies to both reduce the nitrous oxide and methane sources and increase the CO2 sink of agricultural systems at both the national and global scales.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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