Submitted to: Soil and Tillage Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/9/2004
Publication Date: 7/15/2005
Citation: Franzluebbers, A.J., Follett, R.F. 2005. Greenhouse gas contributions and mitigation potential in agricultural regions of North America: Introduction. International Journal of Soil and Tillage Research. 83:1-8.
Interpretive Summary: This introduction to a special issue on soil carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emission in agricultural regions of North America presents (1) goals of the special issue, (2) broad characterization of the region, and (3) a summary of major findings of the special issue. Individual articles in the special issue described modeling of nitrous oxide emission from regions of the USA, review and synthesis of soil carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emission from agriculture in five different regions of the USA and Canada, carbon dynamics in an irrigated soil in Mexico, an assessment of research and implementation needs to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture in the USA, and a national research network to reduce greenhouse gas emission from agriculture (GRACEnet). The information presented in this special issue should serve as a platform to organize new research aimed at (1) quantifying the effects of a wide range of agricultural management systems on greenhouse gas emission, (2) developing robust recommendations for improving soil, water, and air quality in North America, and (3) developing novel approaches and unique perspectives in managing agricultural land to achieve both production and environmental goals.
Technical Abstract: Our goals for this special issue were (1) to assemble a database on agricultural management effects on soil C sequestration and greenhouse gas emission, (2) synthesize what is known and identify what is not known about the effects of agricultural management on greenhouse gas emission and mitigation potential in different regions of North America, (3) determine major ecoregion differences in how agricultural management might mitigate and contribute to greenhouse gas emission, and (4) present future research needs. Soil organic C was sequestered with no tillage in most regions, but not all. Grazing of forage had a large positive effect on soil organic C sequestration in the southeastern USA, but a minor negative effect in the southwestern USA, probably due to differences in precipitation that controlled how fast and to what extent plant communities respond to defoliation. This special issue identified significant gaps in our knowledge about how management can simultaneously (1) satisfy the economic livelihoods of the farmers that cultivate our land, (2) reduce the threats to the environment from unintended consequences of our human need to produce food and fiber, and (3) improve the quality of the land for generations to come.