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Greenhouse gas emissions in conversion from extensive pasture to other agricultural systems in the Andean region of Colombia

Abstract

The challenge of agricultural sector is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while increasing food, fiber and energy production without jeopardizing environmental integrity. In the Andean zone of Colombia, there is a growing need to develop GHG mitigation techniques associated with milk production. The present study focuses on GHG emissions and potential sinks associated with milk production scenarios in the Andean zone of Colombia. The scenarios considered were as follows: conventional agriculture of Pennisetum clandestinum in rotation with potatoes (PRP), improved pastures of Lolium multiflorum (IP) and silvopastoral system of P. clandestinum in association with Acacia decurrens and Trifolium repens (SPS). Based on the IPCC (Guidelines for national greenhouse gas inventories. The intergovernmental panel on climate change, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Kanagawa, 2006. http://www.ipcc-nggip.iges.or.jp/support/Primer_2006GLs.pdf) methodologies, the annual GHG emissions considering a 6-year production cycle included agricultural sources and gasoline consumption related to the most important agricultural phases in the field, and a potential for soil carbon accumulation and biomass carbon fixation in all the studied scenarios. The lowest GHG emissions were estimated in PRP scenario (3684 kg CO2-eq ha−1 year−1), which also presented additional emissions because of soil carbon losses beyond the lower milk productivity. Highest GHG emissions were observed in IP scenario (7711 kg CO2-eq ha−1 year−1), which exhibited the highest milk productivity and a considerable potential for soil carbon accumulation that could help to offset its emissions. Nevertheless, SPS scenario, which had milk productivity close to that of IP, presented the highest potential to offset the total GHG emission (4878 kg CO2-eq ha−1 year−1) because of soil carbon accumulation and biomass carbon fixation in trees. This study contributed to indicate management strategies that should be prioritized to mitigate the main sources of GHG emission in the extensive and intensive dairy cattle production in the Andean region of Colombia.

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Correspondence to Mara Regina Moitinho.

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Parra, A.S., de Figueiredo, E.B., de Bordonal, R.O. et al. Greenhouse gas emissions in conversion from extensive pasture to other agricultural systems in the Andean region of Colombia. Environ Dev Sustain 21, 249–262 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-017-0034-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-017-0034-6

Keywords

  • Biomass and soil carbon sequestration
  • Milk production
  • Agricultural intensification
  • Climate change
  • GHG mitigation
  • Global warming
  • Grassland
  • Trees