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The potential to mitigate global warming with no-tillage management is only realized when practised in the long term

Six, Johan, Ogle, Stephen M., Breidt, F. Jay, Conant, Richard T., Mosier, Arvin R., & Paustian, Keith (2004) The potential to mitigate global warming with no-tillage management is only realized when practised in the long term. Global Change Biology, 10(2), pp. 155-160.

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Abstract

No-tillage (NT) management has been promoted as a practice capable of offsetting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions because of its ability to sequester carbon in soils. However, true mitigation is only possible if the overall impact of NT adoption reduces the net global warming potential (GWP) determined by fluxes of the three major biogenic GHGs (i.e. CO2, N2O, and CH4). We compiled all available data of soil-derived GHG emission comparisons between conventional tilled (CT) and NT systems for humid and dry temperate climates. Newly converted NT systems increase GWP relative to CT practices, in both humid and dry climate regimes, and longer-term adoption (>10 years) only significantly reduces GWP in humid climates. Mean cumulative GWP over a 20-year period is also reduced under continuous NT in dry areas, but with a high degree of uncertainty. Emissions of N2O drive much of the trend in net GWP, suggesting improved nitrogen management is essential to realize the full benefit from carbon storage in the soil for purposes of global warming mitigation. Our results indicate a strong time dependency in the GHG mitigation potential of NT agriculture, demonstrating that GHG mitigation by adoption of NT is much more variable and complex than previously considered, and policy plans to reduce global warming through this land management practice need further scrutiny to ensure success.

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252 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 37780
Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: global warming potential; greenhouse gas mitigation; nitrous oxide; no-tillage
DOI: 10.1111/j.1529-8817.2003.00730.x
ISSN: 1354-1013
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (050000) > ECOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS (050100)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (050000) > SOIL SCIENCES (050300)
Divisions: Past > Institutes > Institute for Sustainable Resources
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2004 Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Deposited On: 08 Oct 2010 11:55
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2011 03:29

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