R. L. DESJARDINS, W. SMITH, B. GRANT, C. CAMPBELL and R. RIZNEK
Research Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 960 Carling Ave, Ottawa, Canada E-mail: [email protected]
Abstract. Carbon sequestration in agricultural soils is frequently promoted as a practical solution for slowing down the rate of increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. Consequently, there is a need to improve our understanding of how land management practices may affect the net removal of greenhouse gases (GHG) from the atmosphere. In this paper we examine the role of agriculture in influencing the GHG budget and briefly discuss the potential for carbon mitigation by agriculture. We also examine the opportunities that exist for increasing soil C sequestration using management practices such as reduced tillage, reduced frequency of summer fallowing, introduction of forage crops into crop rotations, conversion of cropland to grassland and nutrient addition via fertilization. In order to provide information on the impact of such management practices on the net GHG budget we ran simulations using CENTURY (a C model) and DNDC (a N model) for five locations across Canada, for a 30-yr time period. These simulations provide information on the potential trade-off between C sequestration and increased N2O emissions. Our model output suggests that conversion of cropland to grassland will result in the largest reduction in net GHG emissions, while nutrient additions via fertilizers will result in a small increase in GHG emissions. Simulations with the CENTURY model also indicated that favorable growing conditions during the last 15 yr could account for an increase of 6% in the soil C at a site in Lethbridge, Alberta.
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