An agronomic assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from major cereal crops

Bruce Linquist, Kees Jan Van Groenigen, Maria Arlene Adviento-Borbe, Cameron Pittelkow, Chris Van Kessel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions contribute approximately 12% to total global anthropogenic GHG emissions. Cereals (rice, wheat, and maize) are the largest source of human calories, and it is estimated that world cereal production must increase by 1.3% annually to 2025 to meet growing demand. Sustainable intensification of cereal production systems will require maintaining high yields while reducing environmental costs. We conducted a meta-analysis (57 published studies consisting of 62 study sites and 328 observations) to test the hypothesis that the global warming potential (GWP) of CH 4 and N 2O emissions from rice, wheat, and maize, when expressed per ton of grain (yield-scaled GWP), is similar, and that the lowest value for each cereal is achieved at near optimal yields. Results show that the GWP of CH 4 and N 2O emissions from rice (3757 kg CO 2 eq ha -1 season -1) was higher than wheat (662 kg CO 2 eq ha -1 season -1) and maize (1399 kg CO 2 eq ha -1 season -1). The yield-scaled GWP of rice was about four times higher (657 kg CO 2 eq Mg -1) than wheat (166 kg CO 2 eq Mg -1) and maize (185 kg CO 2 eq Mg -1). Across cereals, the lowest yield-scaled GWP values were achieved at 92% of maximal yield and were about twice as high for rice (279 kg CO 2 eq Mg -1) than wheat (102 kg CO 2 eq Mg -1) or maize (140 kg CO 2 eq Mg -1), suggesting greater mitigation opportunities for rice systems. In rice, wheat and maize, 0.68%, 1.21%, and 1.06% of N applied was emitted as N 2O, respectively. In rice systems, there was no correlation between CH 4 emissions and N rate. In addition, when evaluating issues related to food security and environmental sustainability, other factors including cultural significance, the provisioning of ecosystem services, and human health and well-being must also be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-209
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal change biology
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

Keywords

  • 3N O
  • CH
  • Corn
  • Global warming potential
  • Grain yield
  • Maize
  • Meta-analysis
  • Methane
  • Nitrogen rate
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Rice
  • Wheat
  • Yield-scaled

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Science(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'An agronomic assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from major cereal crops'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Linquist, B., Van Groenigen, K. J., Adviento-Borbe, M. A., Pittelkow, C., & Van Kessel, C. (2012). An agronomic assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from major cereal crops. Global change biology, 18(1), 194-209. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02502.x