This information is vital for examining changes in cropland production and management techniques and could play an even bigger role as more land is devoted to bioenergy crops, said Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Tristram West, lead author of a paper published on line in the Journal of Environmental Quality.
"By looking at changes in energy consumption and CO2 emissions that take place with conventional and alternative crop production, we can do a better job of measuring the effects of various carbon sequestration strategies," West said. "This information can also contribute to future policy directions for energy use and agricultural production."
West and co-authors at the University of Tennessee, Kansas State University and ORNL looked at data from 1990 to 2004 and calculated energy consumption and CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion associated with U.S. cropland production. For this project they used a combination of independent survey data, national inventory data, established energy consumption parameters for field-scale operation budgets and CO2 emissions coefficients.
The researchers used a number of other resources, including the University of Tennessee's Agriculture Budget System, which consists of more than 3,500 conventional and alternative management practices for corn, soybean, wheat, sorghum, barley, oat, rice, cotton and hay. As of 2006 these nine crops accounted for about 96 percent of total crop production in the U.S.
On-site energy use and emissions result from fossil fuel combustion that occurs on the farm. Off-site energy and emissions result from fossil fuel combustion linked to the production and transport of fertilizers, pesticides and seeds. Off-site emissions also include those from power plants that produce electricity used on the farm.
The researchers were particularly interested in variations in energy consumption that occur when field management strategies change. For example, they found that the adoption of reduced tillage practices from 1990 to 2004 resulted in a net fossil emissions reduction of 8.8 million metric tons of CO2. Above-average rainfall in 1993 caused fields to be flooded in Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska. As a result, farmers planted fewer crops and CO2 emissions fell.
"Changes in agriculture policy and extreme weather events influence agricultural land use and subsequent energy consumption and CO2 emissions associated with crop production," West said.
Looking at the nation's total CO2 picture, less than 2 percent of the 6,090 million metric tons is the result of farming activities. Electricity generation is the largest source of emissions followed by transportation, industrial, residential and commercial use.
Among the findings was that energy use and emissions do not always change proportionately with the area of cropland in production. Instead, they vary by crop and management practices. Researchers also found that on-site emissions can be reduced by half for some crops if farmers change from conventional tillage to no-till.
This study did not take into account nitrogen oxide emissions from the use of nitrogen fertilizers. It did, however, consider CO2 emissions from the production of fertilizer. Those are included in the off-site estimates.
Another key aspect of the project is that the data provide a spatial distribution of carbon flux, which will allow researchers to compare this information to atmospheric measurements that are part of the North American Carbon Program (http://www.nacarbon.org/nacp/).
The authors conclude the paper by saying, "Through continued analyses, we will have a better understanding of how carbon dynamics in U.S. agriculture are being impacted by changes in land cover and land management."
The research was funded by the Department of Energy's biomass program, within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the Office of Biological and Environmental Research within the Office of Science. Additional resources were contributed by NASA. Energy and emissions data from U.S. cropland production are archived with the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (http://cdiac.ornl.gov/carbonmanagement/cropfossilemissions).
UT-Battelle manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the Department of Energy. The Journal of Environmental Quality (http://jeq.scijournals.org) is a peer-reviewed, international journal of environmental quality in natural and agricultural ecosystems published six times a year by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and the Soil Science Society of America.
Ron Walli | EurekAlert!
Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München
Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
18.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy