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Environ Int. 2017 Jan;98:102-112. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2016.10.020. Epub 2016 Nov 9.

Low-carbon agriculture in South America to mitigate global climate change and advance food security.

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Department of Soil Science and Agricultural Engineering, State University of Ponta Grossa, Av. Carlos Cavalcanti 4748, Campus de Uvaranas, 84030-900 Ponta Grossa, PR, Brazil. Electronic address:
School of Environment and Natural Resources and Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, The Ohio State University, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.
State University of São Paulo, Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura, Av. Centenário 303, 13416-970, Piracicaba, SP, Brazil.
Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation - EMBRAPA Soybean, Rodovia Carlos João Strass, Distrito de Warta Caixa Postal: 231, 86001-970, Londrina, PR, Brazil.
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Department of Forage Plants and Agrometeorology, Porto Alegre, 91540-000, RS, Brazil.


The worldwide historical carbon (C) losses due to Land Use and Land-Use Change between 1870 and 2014 are estimated at 148 Pg C (1 Pg=1billionton). South America is chosen for this study because its soils contain 10.3% (160 Pg C to 1-m depth) of the soil organic carbon stock of the world soils, it is home to 5.7% (0.419 billion people) of the world population, and accounts for 8.6% of the world food (491milliontons) and 21.0% of meat production (355milliontons of cattle and buffalo). The annual C emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production in South America represent only 2.5% (0.25 Pg C) of the total global emissions (9.8 Pg C). However, South America contributes 31.3% (0.34 Pg C) of global annual greenhouse gas emissions (1.1 Pg C) through Land Use and Land Use Change. The potential of South America as a terrestrial C sink for mitigating climate change with adoption of Low-Carbon Agriculture (LCA) strategies based on scenario analysis method is 8.24 Pg C between 2016 and 2050. The annual C offset for 2016 to 2020, 2021 to 2035, and 2036 to 2050 is estimated at 0.08, 0.25, and 0.28 Pg C, respectively, equivalent to offsetting 7.5, 22.2 and 25.2% of the global annual greenhouse gas emissions by Land Use and Land Use Change for each period. Emission offset for LCA activities is estimated at 31.0% by restoration of degraded pasturelands, 25.6% by integrated crop-livestock-forestry-systems, 24.3% by no-till cropping systems, 12.8% by planted commercial forest and forestation, 4.2% by biological N fixation and 2.0% by recycling the industrial organic wastes. The ecosystem carbon payback time for historical C losses from South America through LCA strategies may be 56 to 188years, and the adoption of LCA can also increase food and meat production by 615Mton or 17.6Mtonyear-1 and 56Mton or 1.6Mtonyear-1, respectively, between 2016 and 2050.


Best agricultural management practices; C-offset; Greenhouse gas; Land use and land use change

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