Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Science in action to improve the sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and food systems
Learn More Program Areas

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Agricultural production results in three greenhouse gas emissions of consequence. Nitrous oxide emissions come mainly from nitrogen applied to agricultural soils. Methane emissions come mostly from the digestive processes of ruminant animals, manure management and rice cultivation. Net carbon dioxide fluxes come mainly from fossil fuel use, production of fertilizers and other agro-chemicals, and soil management. Depending on whether only direct emissions are included, or whether indirect emissions from land use change and other sources are also counted, agriculture is credited for between 6 and 35% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Improved management and technology can help dramatically reduce GHG emissions from agriculture.

 

Featured Publications

Farmers’ Trust in Sources of Production and Climate Information and Their Use of Technology

Borrelli, K. A., G. E. Roesch-McNally, J. D. Wulfhorst, S. D. Eigenbrode, G. G. Yorgey, C. E. Kruger, L. L. Houston, L. A. Bernacchi, R. L. Mahler. 2018. Journal of Extension.

Comparison of Greenhouse Gas Offset Quantification Protocols for Nitrogen Management in Dryland Wheat Cropping Systems of the Pacific Northwest

TT Brown, CM Lee, CE Kruger, JP Reganold, DR Huggins. 2017. Frontiers in Environmental Science 5, 72.

Advances in Dryland Farming in the Inland Pacific Northwest

Georgine Yorgey and Chad Kruger, Eds. 2017. Washington State University Extension. Pullman, WA.

Nitrogen Management and Climate Change Mitigation in Pacific Northwest Cropping Systems

Yorgey, G. 2014. Recorded webinar. Part of Pacific Northwest Agriculture and Climate Change Webinar Series available here: http://csanr.wsu.edu/webinars/pnw-ag-and-climate-change/ .

Nitrous Oxide Emissions in Inland Pacific Northwest Cropping Systems

Yorgey, G. 2014. Recorded webinar. Part of Pacific Northwest Agriculture and Climate Change Webinar Series available here: http://csanr.wsu.edu/webinars/pnw-ag-and-climate-change/ .   Flux Tower 3-minute video referenced in presentation.

Nitrogen Cycling and Losses in Agricultural Systems

Borrelli, K. 2014. Recorded webinar. Part of Pacific Northwest Agriculture and Climate Change Webinar Series available here: http://csanr.wsu.edu/webinars/pnw-ag-and-climate-change/ .

Management to Reduce N2O Emissions in Organic Vegetable Production Systems

Cogger, C., A. Fortuna, D. Collins. Feb 27, 2014. The second of a two-part webinar series on Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Soil Quality in Long-term Integrated and Transitional Reduced Tillage Organic Systems.

This is the focus of our current research. How do different organic vegetable production systems affect N2O emissions, and how do other outcomes of those systems affect their potential for adoption?

Systems include full tillage with high-carbon amendment (compost), full tillage with low carbon amendment (broiler litter), pasture-vegetable rotation, and reduced tillage cover crop mulch.
Measurements include N2O and CO2 emissions, soil N, microbial ecology focused on denitrification organisms, crop yield, and soil … » More …

Why the Concern about Nitrous Oxide Emissions?

Cogger, C., A. Fortuna, D. Collins. Feb 25, 2014. The first of a two-part webinar series on Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Soil Quality in Long-term Integrated and Transitional Reduced Tillage Organic Systems.

Topics for this webinar include:

Source and properties of N2O as a greenhouse gas, its relative contribution to global
warming, and the role of agriculture in N2O emissions
Review of the nitrogen cycle and the production of N2O
The relationship between organic practices and N2O production
How we measure N2O emissions

Intended audience is extension faculty and farmers who want a big picture perspective on why we’re interested in nitrous … » More …

Anaerobic Digestion

CSANR webpage.  Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a process in which organic matter is converted into methane by bacteria in the absence of oxygen. Under typical dairy farm conditions manure is stored in open ponds and applied to fields, where decomposition often occurs under anaerobic conditions. This leads to the natural, open-air production of methane, a greenhouse gas with more than 20 times the warming value of carbon dioxide. By enclosing, controlling and accelerating this natural anaerobic conversion process, not only can the methane be contained, but it can be converted to renewable energy, providing two mechanisms for carbon sequestration and global warming reduction – methane … » More …

REACCHPNA Monitoring Greenhouse Gases with the Eddy Covariance Flux Tower (3 min)

May 2013. This video describes how researchers at WSU monitor greenhouse gas exchanges in cereal-based cropping systems using the eddy covariance flux tower. Includes description of flux tower components. This work is part of the REACCH PNA research project.

Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Pacific Northwest

Yorgey, G. 2012.  Recorded webinar.  Part of Pacific Northwest Agriculture and Climate Change Webinar Series available here http://csanr.wsu.edu/webinars/pnw-ag-and-climate-change/ .

BioEarth: A regional-scale earth system model to inform land and water management decisions

Adam, J.C., Rajagopalan, K., Stockle, C.O., Kruger, C.E., Brady, M.P., Barber, M.E., Chinnayakanahalli, K.J., Yorgey, G.G., Nelson, R.L., Dinesh, S., Malek, K., Yoder, J., Chung, S., Vaughan, J.K., Leung, F., Lamb, B.K., Evans, R.D., Harrison, J., Stephens, J., Guenther, A., Kalyanaraman, A., Leung, L.R., Liu, M., Tague, C., Perleberg, A.B., Chen, Y., Norton, T.M., Jiang, X., & Zhu, J. (2012). BioEarth: A regional-scale earth system model to inform land and water management decisions. ASA-CSSA-SSSA International Annual Meeting, Cincinnati, OH.22 October 2012.  The poster can be downloaded via link.

Carbon storage and nitrous oxide emissions of cropping systems in eastern Washington: A simulation study

Stöckle, C., S. Higgins, A. Kemanian, R. Nelson, D. Huggins, J. Marcos, and H. Collins. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 2012 67(5):365-377; doi:10.2489/jswc.67.5.365.

How family forest landowners in the Pacific Northwest perceive climate change

Private forest landowners in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere face the same challenges as public land managers with regard to changing forest conditions. However, little is known regarding the understanding family forest landowners have about climate change and the potential impacts on how they manage their forests. Consequently, the degree to which private landowners are prepared to respond effectively is unknown. To make sure new research and extension programming related to climate change and western forests is as useful as possible for family forest owners, researchers at three universities conducted a needs assessment in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington to determine family forest owners’ perceptions, … » More …

Climate Friendly Farming Final Report: Improving the Carbon Footprint of Agriculture in the Pacific Northwest

The WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture & Natural Resources established the Climate Friendly Farming Project in 2003 with an initial grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. This report represents the culmination of research and assessment of the potential for improved management and technology deployment to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in the Pacific Northwest.

 

Additional Publications

Anaerobic Digestion: Beyond Waste Management

May 2013. CSANR produced a 7.5 minute video showing how state-of-the-art anaerobic digestion systems can offer multiple benefits to society.

Global Climate Change

Weddell, B., L. Carpenter-Boggs, and S. Higgins. June 2012. FS069E. Washington State University researchers have taken a departure from the regionally focused, applied-science extension publication to write a fact sheet on the science, debate and challenges of global climate change.

Climate Change: what does the science really tell us?

A narrated Extension PowerPoint on climate science and climate change. The presentation was prepared by Craig Cogger at WSU Puyallup and covers the basics of climate science, evidence of climate change, projections of future climate change, and mitigation strategies. The presentation consists of 10 parts, each about five minutes long, so that it can be viewed in short sittings.

Estimating greenhouse gas emissions from soil following liquid manure applications using a unit response curve method

G. Wang, S. Chen, C. Frear. Geoderma. Volume 170, 15 January 2012, Pages 295–304.

Extracting valuable energy, carbon and nutrient resources from organic waste

WSU scientists have conducted extensive research on Anaerobic Digestion (AD) as a technology for recovery of methane (energy), stable carbon, and nutrients from organic wastes such as manure, food processing wastes and the organic fraction of municipal solid wastes (OFMSW). Our research has evaluated the technical and economic performance of commercially available systems, developed improved AD reactors, and commercialized WSU patented nutrient recovery technology. This webinar, presented by CSANR director Chad Kruger and CSANR scientist Craig Frear, will provide an update on the latest results from the WSU Climate Friendly Farming Project’s AD research.

Executive Summary – Climate Change and Family Forest Landowners in Idaho

Schnepf, C., J. Creighton, A. Grotta, S. Kantor. 2011. Full report available here.

Climate Change and Family Forest Landowners in Oregon

Grotta, A., J. Creighton, C. Schnepf, S. Kantor. 2011.

Climate Change and Family Forest Landowners in Idaho

Schnepf, C., J. Creighton, A. Grotta, S. Kantor. 2011. Executive summary available here.

Climate Change and Family Forest Landowners in Washington

Creighton, J., C. Schnepf, A. Grotta, S. Kantor. 2011.

Climate Change and Family Forest Landowners in Alaska

Kantor, S., J. Creighton, C. Schnepf, A. Grotta. 2011.

Some WSU Extension websites provide links to external sites for the convenience of users. These external sites are not managed by WSU Extension. Furthermore, WSU Extension does not review, control or take responsibility for the content of these sites, nor do these sites implicitly or explicitly represent official positions and policies of WSU Extension.