Know Climate Change

Adaptation and Mitigation

 
 
 
 
 

Mitigation in the Agriculture Sector

The agriculture sector can play an important role in climate change mitigation by reducing its own emissions, and by increasing the storage of carbon in plants and the soil.

The following figure shows emissions from agriculture.


Emissions from agriculture
Source: maps.grida.no

The agriculture sector is an important source of three major GHGs.

  • Carbon dioxide – The sector is responsible for one-third of the total CO2 emissions.
  • Methane – The sector is the largest source of CH4 (from livestock and flood rice production).
  • Nitrogen oxides – The sector is the largest source of nitrogen oxides (primarily from the application of inorganic nitrogenous fertilizers).

Conversion of forests to annual crops or pastures also results in major loss of carbon stocks and paves the way for the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The diagram given below depicts the process of carbon capture and sequestration.


Carbon Capture and Sequestration
Source: FAO, 2007

The above figure shows carbon sequestration above and below ground. Carbon sequestration means the removal and storage of carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks (such as oceans, forests or soils) through physical or biological processes.

Above the ground, carbon sequestration is done by trees and vegetation, which use carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to prepare their food through photosynthesis. Below the ground, carbon sequestration is done through decomposition of biomass by microorganisms into soil organic matter. A part of the soil organic matter undergoes mineralization, and the remaining part is absorbed by plants as nutrients. A part of mineralized biomass goes to the atmosphere in the form of gaseous loss. It is then absorbed by the green plants. The cycle, thus, continues.

For more information on mitigation options in the agriculture sector, you can read an article (Role of Agriculture) on fao.org.