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J Environ Qual. 2011 Sep-Oct;40(5):1551-9. doi: 10.2134/jeq2011.0105.

Do mitigation strategies reduce global warming potential in the northern U.S. corn belt?

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North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory, Morris, MN 56267, USA.


Agricultural management practices that enhance C sequestration, reduce greenhouse gas emission (nitrous oxide [N₂O], methane [CH₄], and carbon dioxide [CO₂]), and promote productivity are needed to mitigate global warming without sacrificing food production. The objectives of the study were to compare productivity, greenhouse gas emission, and change in soil C over time and to assess whether global warming potential and global warming potential per unit biomass produced were reduced through combined mitigation strategies when implemented in the northern U.S. Corn Belt. The systems compared were (i) business as usual (BAU); (ii) maximum C sequestration (MAXC); and (iii) optimum greenhouse gas benefit (OGGB). Biomass production, greenhouse gas flux change in total and organic soil C, and global warming potential were compared among the three systems. Soil organic C accumulated only in the surface 0 to 5 cm. Three-year average emission of N₂O and CH was similar among all management systems. When integrated from planting to planting, N₂O emission was similar for MAXC and OGGB systems, although only MAXC was fertilized. Overall, the three systems had similar global warming potential based on 4-yr changes in soil organic C, but average rotation biomass was less in the OGGB systems. Global warming potential per dry crop yield was the least for the MAXC system and the most for OGGB system. This suggests management practices designed to reduce global warming potential can be achieved without a loss of productivity. For example, MAXC systems over time may provide sufficient soil C sequestration to offset associated greenhouse gas emission.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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