Areas of Potential Nitrous Oxide Emission Reduction Obtained Through Geographic Analysis of Different Agricultural Techniques in Corn Production Restricted; Files Only

Spies, Georgia (Fall 2020)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/m900nv59c?locale=en
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Abstract

As of 2016, agricultural processes within the U.S. contribute 9% of the U.S.’s total greenhouse gas emissions.  N2O is the third largest greenhouse gas, and in the U.S., agriculture is the main contributor to N2O emissions, contributing a total of 80%. Of this, 87% of N2O emissions from agriculture are due to fertilizer usage. This demands research into cultivation techniques that present an alternative to using fertilizers. To provide scientific evidence for a policy that will promote sustainable and climate-smart agriculture, this paper examines how alternatives to fertilizer may vary in their emission reduction potential across the U.S. The agricultural methods being assessed include white clover living mulch, crimson clover cover crop, cereal rye cover crop, and traditionally fertilized soil. When the estimated % change in emissions after implementation of the different techniques was mapped, the greatest emission reduction potential for cereal rye, crimson clover, and living mulch was within the corn belt and the southeastern U.S.. When fertilizer usage was controlled for, the southeast observed less of an emission reduction potential than the corn belt. Therefore, due to the limitations of this study, including the application of local studies in Georgia to the broader U.S., additional more expansive studies should be conducted to confirm this thesis’ results. Following the potential confirmation of this thesis’ results, additional studies should be directed towards the analysis of whether the techniques analyzed in this study can reduce emissions in the corn belt. Other potential areas for future study include an analysis of why the southeast may have a smaller emission reduction potential than the corn belt even when controlling for the amount of fertilizer used. Additional local level studies could also be directed towards sharp variations in emission reduction potentials between bordering counties. And finally, further studies would be needed to assess whether N2O emissions from corn farms are being underestimated due to between row/within row measurement differences. 

Table of Contents

Introduction…………………………………………………………………………...……………...1-4

Methods…………………………………………………………………………………...…..…...….4-12

Results……………………………………………………………………………………...……...…..12-25

Discussion…………………………………………………………………………………...…..…....26-30

Limitations…...…………………………………………….……………………………….....……..30-31

Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………...……………...32

References.………………………………………………………………………………...…….........33-36

Figures 

1      Image of Measurement Site…………………….…………………….…………...………….8

2      Averaged 2017 N2O Flux for Different Agricultural Techniques…….……….....…...13

3      2015 Corn Yield Per Agricultural Technique …………………….……………...…….....14

4      County Level % Change With Traditional Fertilizer in Georgia……………...…….....15

5      2019 N2O Flux …………………….…………………….……………………...…………....….16

6      Averaged 2019 N2O …………………….…………………….…………………...…………....18

7      County Level % Change (TR Between or Within Row Measurements) in Georgia….19

8      County Level % Change for CC, CR, and Adjusted TR and LM in the U.S………….....21

9      Fertilizer Controlled County Level % Change Per Technique in the U.S.……………...23

Tables

1      County Level Emission Reduction Potential Variations…..…………….…………..……..25

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