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Greenhouse Gases (GHG)
GHGs are gases that trap the suns heat in our atmosphere causing a rise in the temperature of the earth’s surface. These gases are released into our atmosphere as byproducts of some industrial and agricultural practices. The three most important agriculturally produced GHGs are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.
Probably the most well known GHG is carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 is released by the combustion of fossil fuels (like burning gas in your car) or from deforestation (the logging or burning of trees and plants in order to clear land).
Another common GHG is methane (CH4). CH4 is largely produced by the fermentation of organic matter. Manure storage and handling is another contributor to the release of CH4 into the earth’s atmosphere.
Nitrous oxide (N2O) is mainly emitted through the process of denitrification. This process occurs in the soil by bacteria that reduce nitrate to nitrogen gas. Studies have been done to measure GHGs in agriculture for several years. A closed chamber technique is used to measure the rate of accumulation of GHGs in a container placed on the soil surface
While global warming due to GHGs is a concern for everyone, agricultural production is greatly affected by it. The global temperature increases and severe weather events make management decisions regarding seeding dates, crop selection, pest and disease management, and irrigation strategies more of a challenge. The agriculture industry has its effect on global warming as it is responsible for 10% of all GHGs emitted. Taking the steps towards mitigating these emissions will ensure a more sustainable environment and a better future for us all.