Ivan Ortiz Monasterio Reiner Wassmann Bram Govaerts Yasukazu Hosen Nobuko Katayanagi and Nele Verhulst

Abstract

Population and economic growth are expected to be the main drivers of increased food demand through 2050. This increase in food production will come primarily from intensively managed agricultural systems. Currently these systems are already important contributors of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. If production practices are not changed in these systems the emission of GHGs is expected to increase. Therefore, it is important to devise sustainable management practices that, in the short and long term, will help to reduce the emission of GHGs. This chapter analyses the three main cereal crops, rice, wheat and maize, and the management strategies that can help reduce GHG emissions. Rice has the unique characteristic among these cereals of being grown under flooded conditions, which result in CH4 becoming a particularly important GHG in these systems. Although there remains large uncertainty in N2O emissions from paddy fields, mid-season drainage has the potential to be an effective option to mitigate the net global warming potential (GWP) from rice fields when rice residue is returned to the fields. In the case of wheat and maize cropping systems the adoption of currently available best management practices for N management should be a good guideline for practices that reduce N2O emissions. In addition, through the adoption of conservation agriculture it is possible to reduce GHG emissions by reducing the number of tillage operations and possibly by sequestering C. Mitigation policies that encourage efficient use of fertilizers, maintain soil C and sustain agricultural production are likely to have the greatest synergy with sustainable development.

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