Submitted to: Soil and Water Conservation Society
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/10/2011
Publication Date: 7/20/2011
Citation: Hatfield, J.L., Parkin, T.B., Sauer, T.J., Prueger, J.H. 2011. Conservation practices and their potential to mitigate climate change [abstract]. Soil and Water Conservation Society, July 17-20, 2011, Washington, DC. CD-ROM.
Technical Abstract: The resilience of agricultural systems to climate change is dependent on the ability of the soil to capture and supply water to the plant at critical times in order to overcome the potential negative impacts of rising temperature. Climate change will occur as not only changes in the mean values of temperature and precipitation but also in the variation. Agricultural production systems will be subject to more extremes in weather during the growing season leading to increased variation in production among years and across regions. Adoption of conservation practices which protect the soil surface will provide a benefit for agricultural systems and also mitigate climate change at the same time. Protection of the soil surface to increase infiltration of water, decrease erosion, and increase water storage will have a positive impact on plant growth because there will be more water available during the growing season. Increased carbon dioxide capture by crops will only result from increased plant growth and without adequate water resources this will not occur. Climate mitigation will occur through a number of pathways. Increased carbon dioxide and uptake through enhanced growth coupled with reduced tillage systems and residue management will lead to improved soil conditions not only for carbon dioxide but also reduced nitrous oxide emissions. Enhanced plant growth and residue management will also change the energy exchanges and albedo of the surface creating a larger regional effect on climate dynamics. Conservation practices offer several methods of mitigating climate change; however, the initial step in the process is adopting practices which increase the storage and availability of water for increased plant growth and the improvement of the soil to store more water and increase the gas exchange between the soil and the atmosphere.