Robertson, G. P. and P. R. Grace. 2004. Greenhouse gas fluxes in tropical and temperate agriculture: The need for a full-cost accounting of global warming potentials. Environment, Development and Sustainability 6:51-63.
Agriculture’s contribution to radiative forcing is principally through its historical release of carbon in soil and vegetation to the atmosphere and through its contemporary release of nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4). The sequestration of soil carbon in soils now depleted in soil organic matter is a well-known strategy for mitigating the buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere. Less well-recognized are other mitigation potentials. A full-cost accounting of the effects of agriculture on greenhouse gas emissions is necessary to quantify the relative importance of all mitigation options. Such an analysis shows nitrogen fertilizer, agricultural liming, fuel use, N2O emissions, and CH4 ﬂuxes to have additional signiﬁcant potential for mitigation. By evaluating all sources in terms of their global warming potential it becomes possible to directly evaluate greenhouse policy options for agriculture. A comparison of temperate and tropical systems illustrates some of these options.
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