Location: Range Management ResearchTitle: Sound management may sequester methane in grazed rangeland ecosystems) Author
Submitted to: Scientific Reports
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/7/2014
Publication Date: 3/24/2014
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/58691
Citation: Wang, C., Han, G., Wang, S., Zhai, X., Brown, J., Havstad, K.M., Ma, X., Wilkes, A., Zhao, M., Tang, S., Zhou, P., Jiang, Y., Lu, T., Want, Z., Li, Z. 2014. Sound management may sequester methane in grazed rangeland ecosystems. Scientific Reports. 4:4444. Interpretive Summary: Methane is a gas that is produced from natural processes such as feed digestion by humans, livestock and bacteria. The amount of methane that is naturally produced has increased in recent decades in part due to increased numbers of humans and livestock. Methane gas does accumulate in the earth’s atmospheric gas (especially in comparison to CO2), methane makes a large contribution to the heat trapping effects of increased gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. There has been interest in funding ways to store methane naturally in soil and reduce its contribution to greenhouse gas concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere. This collaborative study conducted in China, and which has application to the management of US rangelands showed that rangeland with proper numbers of livestock reduced methane losses from soil and reduced the amount of methane that would enter the Earth’s atmosphere. This study provided another reason why rangelands should not be overstocked with livestock.
Technical Abstract: Considering their contribution to global warming, the sources and sinks of methane (CH4) should be accounted when undertaking a greenhouse gas inventory for grazed rangeland ecosystems. The aim of this study was to evaluate the mitigation potential of current ecological management programs implemented in the main rangeland regions of China. The influences of rangeland improvement, utilization and livestock production on CH4 flux/emission were assessed to estimate CH4 reduction potential. Results indicate that the grazed rangeland ecosystem is currently a net source of atmospheric CH4. However, there is potential to convert the ecosystem to a net sink by improving management practices. Previous assessments of capacity for CH4 uptake in grazed rangeland ecosystems have not considered improved livestock management practices and thus underestimated potential for CH4 uptake. Optimal fertilization, rest and light grazing, and intensification of livestock management contribute mitigation potential significantly.