At every stage, food provisioning releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Farming in particular releases significant amounts of methane and nitrous oxide, two powerful greenhouse gases.Jun 30, 2015
How does agriculture affect the greenhouse effect?
Agriculture emits an estimated 10.5 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gases; however, agriculture also provides opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
How does agriculture and farming cause global warming?
Right now, agriculture generates an estimated 25% of annual greenhouse gas emissions, according to the WRI; that’s when you combine food production and the land-use changes associated with farming, such as clearing vegetation and plowing.
How does agricultural production produce greenhouse gases?
Airborne greenhouse gases are responsible for the effects of climate change. Carbon dioxide is emitted by farm equipment moving across the farm’s fields during tilling, planting, the application of pesticides and fertilizers and harvest. The more passes across the farm field, the more carbon that is emitted.
How does agriculture affect the environment?
Agriculture contributes to a number larger of environmental issues that cause environmental degradation including: climate change, deforestation, biodiversity loss, dead zones, genetic engineering, irrigation problems, pollutants, soil degradation, and waste.
A Background on Greenhouse Gases
Greenhouse Gases and Farming
The top three greenhouse gas–emitting groups globally are China, the European Union and the United States—combined they contribute 41.5% of total global emissions. Efforts to decrease emissions in these sectors of the world are paramount in decreasing overall gas emissions and the impacts of the greenhouse effect. Here in the United States, there are six major contributors …
Efforts to Decrease Emissions
While there is much work to be done to reduce emissions from the above-mentioned sectors, there are various activities in progress to reduce emissions from land and crops, livestock, and manure management. For instance, farmers are fertilizing crops with enhanced nitrogen monitoring—too much nitrogen can contribute to higher nitrous oxide emissions…
Carbon Sequestration in Soils
Agriculture as Carbon Cap and Storage
Scaling up from soil to the entire industry, the agricultural sector could be “broadly carbon neutral” by 2030, effectively negating the agricultural industry’s humongous carbon footprint. Translation: We would avoid emitting a whopping 2 gigatonnes — that’s 2 billion metric tonnes — of carbon dioxide. Given that, practicing sustainable agriculture, along with reducing deforestation, is far m…
Local Food Systems and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Combined with the two big green steps mentioned above, local food systems can help reduce agriculture’s impact on global warming even further. The example that resident sustainability engineer Pablo used for calculation — cherries grown close enough to be transported by truck rather than airplane — won’t apply to everything, but the lesson is clear: Employing organic agricu…
Industrial Agriculture’s Huge Carbon Footprint
On the other side of the equation, industrial agriculture — the practice currently employed by the majority of the developed world — has a hugely negative impact on global warming. The U.S. food system contributes nearly 20 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions; on a global scale, figures from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) say that agricultural land us…
Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Fertilizer and Pesticide Use
But wait, there’s more! If we consider some of the embodied energy required for industrial ag, it gets worse. According to Will Allen, green farmer extraordinaire, including all the “manufacture and use of pesticides and fertilizers, fuel and oil for tractors, equipment, trucking and shipping, electricity for lighting, cooling, and heating, and emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous o…
Land Use Changes and Agriculture
It’s not just the actual farming (if you can call it that) that makes industrial agriculture so detrimental. In almost every case, land use changes — say, deforestation, or paving over green space for suburban expansion — result in more surface warming. One exception: When deforestation occurs to create more agricultural land. That’s right, deforestation results in surfac…