A literature review of the applications in reducing green house gas in the agricultural system - Essay Example

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The intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (2007, P. 237) asserts that agriculture contributes a significant amount of greenhouse gases. However, all…
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A literature review of the applications in reducing green house gas in the agricultural system
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Applications in Reducing Greenhouse Gas in the Agricultural System Greenhouse gases from agricultural activities are the second global warming causesafter industries (IPCC, 2007, P.231). The intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (2007, P. 237) asserts that agriculture contributes a significant amount of greenhouse gases. However, all agriculture has no similar impacts on global warming. The following section reviews literature relating to the applications in reducing greenhouse gas in the agricultural system. Since the main contributor of these greenhouse gases is industrial agriculture, emission of these gases can be reduced by sustainable smallholder agriculture and hence contribute to planet cooling. Industrial agriculture causes global warming because it is intensive in fossil fuel, operations from confined animal feeds lead to emission of methane, application of nitrogenous fertilizer causes emission of nitrous oxide, and finally, large scales of land within the tropics are being converted into intensive monoculture plantations.
Reducing Greenhouse Gas in the Agricultural System
1. Better farming methods
a) Keeping fewer livestock
The large livestock populations in the world produce high amounts of greenhouse gases that consequently influence climate change. Changes in the soils’ carbon flux can be very significant, even though it is small, because of the volume of soil (Smil, 1999, P127). Despite favor of livestock production by market forces, Smil (1999, p. 130) examines that application of alternative methods may help in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions while providing good livestock returns, sustainability and health where deforestation, land degradation, and feed-crop dependence are avoided.
b) Reduction of feed grains
Mitigation efforts in agricultural systems include keeping fewer livestock, conservation tillage, intensification of livestock without crowded confinement, and organic farming (Casey and Holden, 2006). Reduction of feed grains that are chemically fertilized is however the most effective way of reducing pollution by greenhouse gases (Casey and Holden, 2006, p. 234). Maize, wheat, and soybean production emits about 17 million tones of carbon dioxide per year (IPCC, 2007, P.241). Together with the fast increasing number of livestock, the possibility of changing the balance between sequestering nitrogen and nitrous emissions in the soil is big. \
Effective Policies
Application of the Kyoto protocol in farming
Another important strategy of reducing greenhouse gases by agricultural system is the application of policy mechanisms stipulated by Kyoto Protocol’s mechanisms of clean development to provide support and stimulus small scale farmers who are willing to practice sustainable agriculture. Potentially, about 1 tonne of carbon is yearly produced per hectare of arable land (IPCC, 2007, P.2456). However, this can be sequestered by application of methods that are designed for restoration of degraded soils. (Casey and Holden, 2006, p. 237) observe that organic methods are rapidly spreading because they reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Farming systems that are environmentally sustainable also reduce emissions of nitrous oxides by reducing manure production and limiting densities of stocking to amounts of land that effectively be applied with manure. Furthermore, livestock feeds are now being developed to minimize nitrous oxides and methane emissions.
Application of carbon credit measures
Incorporation of environmentally realistic externalities into input fees and waste management is also important. Carbon credits and deforestation subsidies for large scale oil palm and soybeans planting, while criminalizing small scale farmers, is a bad policy (Casey and Holden, 2006, p. 237). Small livestock producers constitute a powerful mechanism of sequestering nitrogen and carbon through sustainable farming if allowed or provided with incentives. However, as Casey and Holden (2006, p. 239) asserts, the efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions globally cannot afford continuation of industrial agricultural business. It is clear that it will not be business as usual for agricultural systems that are harmful by producing large amounts of greenhouse gases. Therefore, it is the responsibility of each farmer to ensure that the farming methods being applied are environmental friendly, through reduction of emission of greenhouse gases.
Casey, J.W. and Holden, N.M. 2006. Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Conventional, Agric-Environmental Scheme, and Organic Irish Sucker-Beef Units. Journal of Environmental Quality 35:231-239.
IPCC. 2007. Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis.  Contribution
Smil, V. 2002. Nitrogen and Food Production: Proteins for Human Diets. Ambio, 3:126–131. of Working Groups to the Fourth Assessment. Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M.  Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M.Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge; Cambridge University Press. Read More
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