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Identity-based estimation of greenhouse gas emissions from crop production: case study from Denmark

Identity-based estimation of greenhouse gas emissions from crop production: case study from Denmark

Bennetzen, Eskild H., Smith, Pete, Soussana, Jean-Francois and Porter, John R. (2012) Identity-based estimation of greenhouse gas emissions from crop production: case study from Denmark. European Journal of Agronomy, 41. pp. 66-72. ISSN 1161-0301 (doi:

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In order to feed the world we need innovative thinking on how to increase agricultural production whilst also mitigating climate change. Agriculture and land-use change are responsible for approximately one-third of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but hold potential for climate change mitigation but are only tangentially included in UNFCCC mitigation policies. To get a full estimate of GHG emissions from agricultural crop production both energy-based emissions and land-based emissions need to be accounted for. Furthermore, the major mitigation potential is likely to be indirect reduction of emissions i.e. reducing emissions per unit of agricultural product rather than the absolute emissions per se. Hence the system productivity must be included in the same analysis. This paper presents the Kaya-Porter identity, derived from the Kaya identity, as a new way to calculate GHG emissions from agricultural crop production by deconstructing emissions into five elements; the GHG intensity of the energy used for production (kg CO2-eq./MJ), energy intensity of the production (MJ/kg dry matter), areal productivity (kg dry matter/ha), areal land-based GHG emissions (CO2-eq./ha) and area (ha). These separate elements in the identity can be targeted in emissions reduction and mitigation policies and are useful to analyse past and current trends in emissions and to explore future scenarios. Using the Kaya-Porter identity we have performed a case study on Danish crop production and find emissions to have been reduced by 12% from 1992 to 2008, whilst yields per unit area have remained constant. Both land-based emissions and energy-based emissions have decreased, mainly due to a 41% reduction in nitrogen fertilizer use. The initial identity based analysis for crop production presented here needs to be extended to include livestock to reflect the entire agricultural production and food demand sectors, thereby permitting analysis of the trade-offs between animal and plant food production, human dietary preferences and population and resulting GHG emissions.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Kaya identity, Kaya-Porter identity, crop production, greenhouse gas emission, energy intensity, mitigation
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
S Agriculture > SB Plant culture
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2020 15:15

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