Climate neutral in agricultural production system: a regional case from China

Abstract

The concept of climate neutral has been introduced in the agricultural production system to re-examine the connotation of agricultural carbon footprint (CF). According to the integrated accounting framework of the agricultural CF we built, then selected a case from China, and carried out the climate economic effect quantitative analysis of the agricultural production system. The results indicated that CO2 emissions accounted the largest percentage of total carbon emissions by 52.05%, which was driven strongly by the application of agricultural fertilizers and consumption of diesel oil and CH4 emissions (ME) from cattle fed intestinal fermentation, and the driving force behind carbon sequestration was derived from the woody cash crops of carbon sequestration by vegetation and the input of residual carbon from straw returning to field and root stubble in the soil carbon pool. The carbon sink finally realized in the agricultural production system and the agricultural CF index reflected the surplus of 1.801 Mt C in the study area. In addition, we used the indicators of carbon density, carbon intensity, and carbon efficiency to judge the trade-offs of cost-benefit between the agroecosystem and economic system, so as to put forward some potential mitigation strategies for the study area. The mitigative effect of agricultural production system on climate neutral need to be further estimated in a more rigorous manner while controlling for more uncertainties in the future.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Data availability

All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in this published article.

Abbreviations

CF:

Carbon footprint

CO2 :

Carbon dioxide

CO2e :

Carbon dioxide equivalent

CE:

CO2 emissions

GWP:

Global warming potential

GHG:

Greenhouse gases

GE:

GHG emissions

CH4 :

Methane

ME:

CH4 emissions

N2O:

Nitrous oxide

NE:

N2O emissions

SOC:

Soil organic carbon

References

  1. Adewale C, Higgins S, Granatstein D, Stöckle CO, Carlson BR, Zaher UE, Carpenter-Boggs L (2016) Identifying hotspots in the carbon footprint of a small-scale organic vegetable farm. Agric Syst 149:112–121

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Andreae MO, Merlet P (2001) Emission of trace gases and aerosols from biomass burning. Glob Biogeochem Cycles 15(4):955–966

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Ayyildiz M, Erdal G (2021) The relationship between carbon dioxide emission and crop and livestock production indexes: a dynamic common correlated effects approach. Environ Sci Pollut Res 28:597–610

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Ball A, Mason I, Grubnic S, Hughes P (2009) The carbon neutral public sector: early developments and an urgent agenda for research. Public Manag Rev 11(5):575–600

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Beauchemin KA, Janzen HH, Little SM, McAllister TA, McGinn SM (2010) Life cycle assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from beef production in western Canada: a case study. Agric Syst 103(6):371–379

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Bennetzen EH, Smith P, Porter JR (2016) Agricultural production and greenhouse gas emissions from world regions—the major trends over 40 years. Glob Environ Chang 37:43–55

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Bradshaw CJ, Warkentin IG (2015) Global estimates of boreal forest carbon stocks and flux. Glob Planet Chang 128:24–30

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Carlson KM, Gerber JS, Mueller ND, Herrero M, MacDonald GK, Brauman KA, Havlik P, O’Connell CS, Johnson JA, Saatchi S, West PC (2017) Greenhouse gas emissions intensity of global croplands. Nat Clim Chang 7(1):63–68

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Chen S, Lu F, Wang XK (2015a) Estimation of greenhouse gases emission factors for China’s nitrogen, phosphate, and potash fertilizers. Acta Ecol Sin 35(19):6371–6383 (In Chinese)

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Chen ZD, Wu Y, Ti JS, Chen F, Li Y (2015b) Carbon efficiency of double-rice production system in Hunan Province, China. J Appl Ecol 26(1):87–92 (In Chinese)

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Chen LY, Xue L, Xue Y (2016) Spatial-temporal characteristics of China’s agricultural net carbon sink. J Nat Resour 31(4):596–607 (In Chinese)

    Google Scholar 

  12. Chen R, Zhang R, Han H, Jiang Z (2020) Is farmers’ agricultural production a carbon sink or source? – Variable system boundary and household survey data. J Clean Prod 266:122108

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Chen R, Zhang R, Han H (2021) Where has carbon footprint research gone? Ecol Indic 120:106882

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Cheng K, Pan G, Smith P, Luo T, Li L, Zheng J, Zhang X, Han X, Yan M (2011) Carbon footprint of China’s crop production—an estimation using agro-statistics data over 1993–2007. Agric Ecosyst Environ 142(3-4):231–237

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Drichoutis AC, Lusk JL, Pappa V (2016) Elicitation formats and the WTA/WTP gap: a study of climate neutral foods. Food Policy 61:141–155

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Fang J, Guo Z, Piao S, Chen A (2007) Terrestrial vegetation carbon sinks in China, 1981–2000. Sci China Ser D Earth Sci 50(9):1341–1350 (In Chinese)

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Gössling S (2009) Carbon neutral destinations: a conceptual analysis. J Sustain Tour 17(1):17–37

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Han H, Zhong Z, Guo Y, Xi F, Liu S (2018) Coupling and decoupling effects of agricultural carbon emissions in China and their driving factors. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25:25280–25293

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Houghton RA (2007) Balancing the global carbon budget. Annu Rev Earth Planet Sci 35:313–347

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Huang J, Luan B, Cai X, Zou H (2020) The role of domestic R&D activities played in carbon intensity: evidence from China. Sci Total Environ 708:135033

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Kilpeläinen S, Aalto P, Toivanen P, Lehtonen P, Holttinen H (2019) How to achieve a more resource efficient and climate neutral energy system by 2030? Views of Nordic Stakeholders. Rev Policy Res 36(4):448–472

    Google Scholar 

  22. Kumari S, Dahiya RP, Naik SN, Hiloidhari M, Thakur IS, Sharawat I, Kumari N (2016) Projection of methane emissions from livestock through enteric fermentation: a case study from India. Environ Dev 20:31–44

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Lipper L, Thornton P, Campbell BM, Baedeker T, Braimoh A, Bwalya M, Caron P, Cattaneo A, Garrity D, Henry K, Hottle R, Jackson L, Jarvis A, Kossam F, Mann W, McCarthy N, Meybeck A, Neufeldt H, Remington T, Sen PT, Sessa R, Shula R, Tibu A, Torquebiau EF (2014) Climate-smart agriculture for food security. Nat Clim Chang 4(12):1068–1072

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Liu W, Zhang G, Wang X, Lu F, Ouyang Z (2018) Carbon footprint of main crop production in China: magnitude, spatial-temporal pattern and attribution. Sci Total Environ 645:1296–1308

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Piao S, Fang J, Ciais P, Peylin P, Huang Y, Sitch S, Wang T (2009) The carbon balance of terrestrial ecosystems in China. Nature 458(7241):1009–1013

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Samsonstuen S, Åby BA, Crosson P, Beauchemin KA, Bonesmo H, Aass L (2019) Farm scale modelling of greenhouse gas emissions from semi-intensive suckler cow beef production. Agric Syst 176:102670

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Schwaiger HP, Bird DN (2010) Integration of albedo effects caused by land use change into the climate balance: should we still account in greenhouse gas units? For Ecol Manag 260(3):278–286

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. SDC (2006) Sustainable Development in Government: Annual Report 2006. Sustainable Development Commission, London

    Google Scholar 

  29. She W, Wu Y, Huang H, Chen Z, Cui G, Zheng H, Guan C, Chen F (2017) Integrative analysis of carbon structure and carbon sink function for major crop production in China’s typical agriculture regions. J Clean Prod 162:702–708

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Tian Y, Zhang JB, He YY (2014) Research on spatial-temporal characteristics and driving factor of agricultural carbon emissions in China. J Integr Agric 13(6):1393–1403

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Valentini R, Matteucci G, Dolman AJ, Schulze ED, Rebmann CJMEAG, Moors EJ et al (2000) Respiration as the main determinant of carbon balance in European forests. Nature 404(6780):861–865

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Viglizzo EF, Ricard MF, Taboada MA, Vázquez-Amábile G (2019) Reassessing the role of grazing lands in carbon-balance estimations: meta-analysis and review. Sci Total Environ 661:531–542

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Wiedmann T, Minx J (2008) Adefinition of carbon footprint. Ecological Economics Research Trends 1:1–11

  34. Wu FL, Li L, Zhang HL, Chen F (2007) Effects of conservation tillage on net carbon flux from farmland ecosystems. Chin J Ecol 12:2035–2039 (In Chinese)

    Google Scholar 

  35. Wu T, Wang Y, Yu C, Chiarawipa R, Zhang X, Han Z, Wu L (2012) Carbon sequestration by fruit trees-Chinese apple orchards as an example. PLoS One 7(6):e38883

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Xu X, Lan Y (2017) Spatial and temporal patterns of carbon footprints of grain crops in China. J Clean Prod 146:218–227

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Funding

This work was supported by the Project funded by China Postdoctoral Science Foundation [grant number 2020 M671776].

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

Ru Chen: Conceptualization, investigation, data curation, methodology, formal analysis, writing—original draft preparation, funding acquisition, and supervision

Ruoyan Zhang: Writing—review and editing and investigation

Hongyun Han: Writing—review and editing and supervision

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ru Chen.

Ethics declarations

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Not applicable.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Responsible Editor: Philippe Garrigues

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Chen, R., Zhang, R. & Han, H. Climate neutral in agricultural production system: a regional case from China. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-021-13065-8

Download citation

Keywords

  • Carbon footprint
  • Carbon balance
  • Climate neutral
  • Agroecosystem
  • Climate-smart agriculture