Mitigation Potential of Agricultural Emissions using a Variety of Options in the Tropics

The release of greenhouse gases, primarily methane<!–[if supportFields]> XE “methane (CH4)” <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–> is an important issue that needs to be considered in the agricultural sector. However, other gases are released from the agricultural sector as well, including carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide<!–[if supportFields]> XE “nitrous oxide (N2O)” <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>. Furthermore, in the context of climate change, changes made in agricultural practices as well as changes made in livestock-related practices, can play a role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Thornton and Hererrero (2010) used a method that involved the estimation of four different types of adoption on the production of carbon dioxide and methane. Each adoption could be applied at two levels: complete adoption and optimistic, but plausible adoption rates. Furthermore, they used two different types of methods: carbon sequestration<!–[if supportFields]> XE “carbon sequestration” <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–> of degraded rangelands and the usage of agroforestry practices. Both these methods were applied in tropical regions, namely in tropical Central and South America and sub-Saharan Africa<!–[if supportFields]> XE “Africa” <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>. The authors found that despite the mitigation potential rates having not much impact on the global total from agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, the resulting carbon payments from offsets in gas emissions could be a source of income for farmers who are not very well off.— Nitya Chhiber
Herrero, M. and Thornton, P.K. 2010. Potential for reduced methane<!–[if supportFields]> XE “methane (CH4)” <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–> and carbon dioxide emissions from livestock and pasture management in the tropics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 16, 19667 – 19672, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0912890107

Thornton and Herrero used the RUMINANT model to provide estimates of production of methane<!–[if supportFields]> XE “methane (CH4)” <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>, milk, and meat. This model is structured around inputs and outputs. The inputs are the fermentable nutrients and the outputs are the products of fermentation, which include methane. The study involved analyzing four different mitigation options under two different types of adoption rates: complete adoption and optimistic but plausible adoption. The four mitigation options mainly had an impact on the production of carbon dioxide and methane gases.
The highest mitigation potential for greenhouse gas emissions was the one associated with the method of restoration of the degraded rangelands in sub-Saharan Africa<!–[if supportFields]> XE “Africa” <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–> and Central and South America at observed or plausible adoption rates. The next two methods, which are beneficial in terms of their mitigation potential, are the agroforestry option and improvements in the use of improved pastures and crop residue digestibility. It is interesting to note that despite having one of the highest mitigation potentials of all options, the agroforestry option, which involves the sequestration<!–[if supportFields]> XE “sequestration” <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–> of carbon due to the replacement of concentrates by leaves of Leucaena leucocephal<!–[if supportFields]> XE “Leucaena leucocephal” <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–> in their diet, there are cultural manifestations. In countries in the developing world, the number of livestock is a form of symbolic capital but this method is related to the reduction in livestock numbers.

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