Degassing agriculture...

25 Nov 2013

We are all aware of the detrimental effects on climate that have been attributed to excess greenhouse gas emissions, and continuing political pressure is bringing about ever stricter targets for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, as part of the UK's strategy nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions must be reduced by 80% by 2050.

Recent years have seen successful reduction of N2O emissions, but this needs to be improved further in order to reach the targets that have been set. One major problem is the agricultural sector; current practices emit large amounts of N2O, accounting for over 80% of the UK's total. There is clearly the need for significant reductions that might see us meet those targets for 2050.

This approach, however, will not be easy. These N2O emissions stem, to a large degree, from the application of large amounts of nitrogen to arable land and grassland in order to maintain crop health and deliver good yields. The challenge facing the sector is greater still, since the growing population means that farming must be intensified further to meet the demand for food; this would undoubtedly lead to greater application of nitrogen to farmland and higher N2O emissions.

An upcoming symposium organised by the BioResources group seeks to address some of these challenges. 'Practical measures to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions' will be held at Rothamsted Research, Harpenden on 30 April 2014.

The meeting will bring together field researchers, plant breeders and fertiliser companies to look at novel methods of fertiliser application in arable crop systems and for accurately measuring the contribution of emissions from different agricultural methods. There will be discussions about new technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions during the manufacture of fertilisers as well as the latest developments in plant breeding to give more efficient use of applied fertiliser and the potential for using legumes to increase nitrogen levels in soil in European agricultural areas.

The event will bring together members of the research, industry, agriculture and policy-making communities in exciting and important discussions of state-of-the-art methods for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, allowing all to work together to forge a route to that 80% reduction target.

Unfortunately, this event has been cancelled.

Dr Philip Sellars
SCI BioResources Group

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