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2009: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Agriculture

Mitigating agricultural emissions

SRUC is actively involved in research that aims to identify the magnitude of greenhouse gas reductions that can be achieved by a range of mitigation options. At a practical level there is a range of technically feasible ways of reducing emissions:

  • Adopting energy saving practices on farms, not least by replacing older machinery/buildings with more modern and usually more efficient items;
  • Improving efficiency of nutrient use (fertilisers and manure/slurry) by matching use with need and reducing wastage/needless emissions;
  • Changing livestock diet to reduce emissions of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N20);
  • Use of slow release fertilisers and nitrification inhibitors
  • Improving manure and slurry storage;
  • Reducing disturbance of soils; and
  • Enhancing carbon storage in biomass by creating new woodlands.

Yet while there is a range of possible options for reducing emissions, it is not immediately apparent which options would be best to pursue. Given that there is a large amount of variability in emissions from place to place, there is an argument for targeting mitigation in areas with highest emissions (Ball et al. 2008). Also, some options will deliver greater reductions than others, but they may also be more expensive to undertake. A process for evaluating the options is required.

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