Decarbonization of Agriculture: The greenhouse gas impacts and economics of existing and emerging climate-smart practices

November 03, 2023 | ACS Engineering Au | 

Introduction: A research team from Pacific Northwest Laboratory in the US explores regenerative agriculture (RA), digital agriculture (DA), and controlled environment agriculture (CEA) as climate-smart farming approaches, assessing their potential to mitigate CO2, CH4, and N2O emissions while considering economic viability and research needs. 

Key findings: While all three approaches show promise in CO2 mitigation, research on RA and DA is more extensive, particularly regarding non-CO2 emissions (N2O and CH4). However, methodological and data limitations persist, especially in assessing the CH4 footprint of RA practices. Uncertainties remain regarding the overall efficacy and persistence of mitigation, including soil carbon sequestration and lifecycle emissions of CEA compared to traditional systems. Economic feasibility varies across practices, with RA generally being more accessible. Integrating multiple approaches may offer synergistic benefits, addressing trade-offs between practices. Incentives, investments, and policy changes are crucial for enhancing farmer adoption. Further research is needed to better understand the per-kilogram emission reductions and yield impacts of these practices, aiding in meeting global food needs and GHG reduction goals.

Graphical Abstract