Greenhouse Gas Fluxes in Tropical and Temperate Agriculture: The need for a Full-Cost accounting of Global Warming Potentials

  • G. Philip RobertsonEmail author
  • Peter R. Grace


Agriculture's contribution to radiative forcing is principally through its historical release of carbon in soil and vegetation to the atmosphere and through its contemporary release of nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CHM4). The sequestration of soil carbon in soils now depleted in soil organic matter is a well-known strategy for mitigating the buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere. Less well-recognized are other mitigation potentials. A full-cost accounting of the effects of agriculture on greenhouse gas emissions is necessary to quantify the relative importance of all mitigation options. Such an analysis shows nitrogen fertilizer, agricultural liming, fuel use, N2O emissions, and CH4 fluxes to have additional significant potential for mitigation. By evaluating all sources in terms of their global warming potential it becomes possible to directly evaluate greenhouse policy options for agriculture. A comparison of temperate and tropical systems illustrates some of these options.

carbon dioxide carbon sequestration global warming potential greenhouse policy liming methane nitrous oxide soil carbon trace gas flux. 


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.W.K. Kellogg Biological Station and Department of Crop and Soil SciencesMichigan State UniversityHickory CornersUSA
  2. 2.Cooperative Research Center for Greenhouse AccountingAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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