Developing Climate Smart Agricultural practices for carbon sequestration and mitigation of greenhouse gases (D1.50.20)


Background:

Climate Change due to continued increased emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) is a global threat. For many years, scientists were predicting that climate change would happen in the future, but that is no longer the case right now. Direct and indirect GHG emissions from agriculture, forestry and other land-uses changes contribute approximately 25% of the global anthropogenic GHG emissions. Data by the IPCC clearly show that anthropogenic emissions of the three major GHGs including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) have increased significantly since the industrial revolution in the mid of the 18th century and as a result, Earth’s average surface air temperature has increased about 1.1°C. The warming has caused a number of changes to our climate including extreme weather events such as frequent heat waves, droughts, floods, and uneven distribution of rainfall, rising sea levels and melting of glaciers. The GHGs with largest global warming potential are N2Oand CH4, which predominantly originate from agriculture. Based on the outputs of the previous CRP (D1.50.16), climate-smart agricultural practices are a promising tool to enhance crop production with lower GHG emissions. However, more quantitative data on the effect of soil processes (e.g. C- and N-dynamics) on emissions of GHGs in relation to land-use changes are urgently needed. Many farming practices such as soil cultivation, application of nitrogen (N) fertilizers, animal manure, crop residues, excreta from grazing livestock, and converting peatland to arable agriculture lead to GHG emissions to the atmosphere. Overall, a 70% increase in current agricultural production will be required, from existing natural resources of land and water, to meet the increasing demand of food (e.g. dairy and meat products) from the fast-growing population in developed and developing economies. This will lead to more GHG emissions. Agriculture production is at the same time a key contributor to climate change a primary victim of climate variability (heat, drought, changing rainfall patterns, extreme events) which cause major damages in terms of crop failure, soil erosion, fast decomposition of organic matter, overall nutrients cycling, etc. Thus, the development and validation of climate-smart agricultural practices are required to ensure food security while minimize GHG emission.

Objectives:

The objectives are: To develop and validate climate-smart agricultural practices, based on isotopic and related techniques, to increase soil carbon (C) sequestration (based on C budgeting), mitigate GHG emissions (N2O, CH4, CO2) and limit gaseous losses of ammonia (NH3) and dinitrogen (N2) from agricultural ecosystems, with the aim to enhance agricultural productivity and sustainability.

The specific objectives:

  • 1.1. To determine C budgets based on the quantification of C fluxes (CO2 and CH4) using nuclear and related techniques and devise soil C sequestration strategies in selected agroecosystems.
  • 1.2. To quantify N2O and N2 emissions using 15N technique to validate agricultural system-specific emission factors (EF).
  • 1.3. To evaluate the effect of N process inhibitors and biochar on soil N transformation rates using 15N tracing technique and to test their N2O mitigation potential within specific agroecosystems (soil, plant and climate).
  • 1.4. To develop guidelines on climate-smart agriculture practices for C sequestration, mitigation of GHG and improved N use efficiency.
    • Participants:

      Twelve countries participate in this CRP: nine research contract holders, one each from Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, and Viet Nam, two agreement holders from China and New Zealand, , and two technical contractors from Germany and Spain.

      Activities:

      The first Research Coordination Meeting (RCM) took place virtually on 8-12 February 2021, initiated from Vienna, Austria. After the meeting, all CRP participants have started establishing field trials to develop and validate climate-smart agricultural practices, to increase soil C sequestration, mitigate emissions of GHG and NH3 from agricultural ecosystems, with the aim to enhance agricultural productivity and sustainability.

      Project Officer:

      M Zaman and L. Heng