Farming leaders across the UK have warned that the industry must not be sacrificed in order to meet greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets in the wake of the latest report from the Committee on Climate Change.
In its latest publication, Reducing UK emissions – 2018 Progress Report to Parliament, amongst other things, the Committee warned that large reductions in emissions from power generation had masked a lack of progress in other sectors, including agriculture, and that the sector now accounted for 10 per cent of total UK GHG emissions.
Excluding transport, agricultural greenhouse gas emissions were 46.5 MtCO2e in 2016, broadly unchanged from 2015. Emissions are 16 per cent lower than in 1990, but there has been no progress in reducing emissions in this sector since 2008. Around half come from livestock, and a quarter from soil management, with the rest coming from manure management and machinery.
However, Jim McLaren of Quality Meat Scotland said, “Setting a legal net zero target now would require 16,000 ha of woodland planting per year, the use of GM crop technology and zero livestock production.” He added that current methods for assessing agricultural GHG emissions are “not fit for purpose.”
The post New emissions targets could cripple farming appeared first on Hort News on 9 July 2018.
According to new research from Colorado State University (CSU), nitrogen cycle disturbance from emissions of agriculture-related ammonia now exceeds the effects of fossil fuel combustion emissions, in the US at least.
According to the team, ‘No matter what the source, excess nitrogen in the atmosphere, as it cycles through terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in both wet and dry processes, has debilitating environmental impacts. These include increased soil acidification, decreased biodiversity, and changes to the chemistry of lakes and streams.’
Most attention in recent years has focused on the fossil fuels and major strides have been made to stem these emissions. In contrast, ammonia from agricultural processes has received relatively little attention in the US, and ammonia is not a regulated pollutant. The CSU researchers found that ammonium has now surpassed nitrates as the dominant source of nitrogen deposition and subsequent disruption to the nitrogen cycle in the country.
“We are used to thinking of nitrates as driving a lot of the nitrogen deposition, and that was true in the 1980s,” said Jeffrey Collett, who led the team. “But largely because we’ve reduced nitrates so much while ammonium deposition has increased, the balance is now shifted, and ammonium is now a bigger contributor to nitrogen deposition.”
Photo Credit: © chas53 / Fotolia
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The latest edition of Agricultural Statistics and Climate Change, published by Defra and National Statistics, shows that emissions of major greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the sector have fallen.
Total estimated GHG emissions fell 19% from 1990 to 2013, with the biggest falls in carbon dioxide (31%), followed by nitrous oxide and methane which dropped 17% each. Methane accounted for the largest proportion of gases at 27 million tonnes CO2e in 2013. Total productivity rose over the same period according to the report.
However, the output of vegetables and other horticultural products fell between 1990 and 2014, although at 86.7% of the 1990 index the 2014 figure was still higher than 2012 which was the lowest period. According to the statistics the sector accounts for 10% of total GHG emissions from agriculture. ‘Improved nitrogen use efficiency in cropping systems can be achieved through improved crop nutrient management,” comment the authors.
Photo Credit: National Statistics/Defra
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