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Greenhouse gas emission intensities and economic efficiency in crop production: A systems analysis of 95 farms


  • Bonesmo, Helge
  • Skjelvåg, Arne Oddvar
  • Henry Janzen, H.
  • Klakegg, Ove
  • Tveito, Ole Einar


To increase food production while mitigating climate change, cropping systems in the future will need to reduce greenhouse gas emission per unit of production. We conducted an analysis of 95 arable farms in Norway to calculate farm scale emissions of greenhouse gases, expressed both as CO2 eq per unit area, and CO2 eq per kg DM produced and to describe relationships between the farms’ GHG intensities and their economic efficiencies (gross margin). The study included: (1) design of a farm scale model for net GHG emission from crop production systems; (2) establishing a consistent farm scale data set for the farms with required soil, weather, and farm operation data; (3) a stochastic simulation of the variation in the sources of GHG emission intensities, and sensitivity analysis of selected parameters and equations on GHG emission intensities; and (4) describing relationships between GHG emission intensities and gross margins on farms. Among small seed and grain crops the variation in GHG emissions per kg DM was highest in oilseed (emission intensity at the 75th percentile level was 1.9 times higher than at the 25th percentile). For barley, oats, spring wheat, and winter wheat, emissions per kg DM at the 75th percentile levels were between 1.4 and 1.6 times higher than those at the 25th percentiles. Similar trends were observed for emissions per unit land area. Invariably soil N2O emission was the largest source of GHG emissions, accounting for almost half of the emissions. The second largest source was the off farm manufacturing of inputs (∼25%). Except for the oilseed crop, in which soil carbon (C) change contributed least, the on farm emissions due to fuel use contributed least to the total GHG intensities (∼10%). The soil C change contributed most to the variability in GHG emission intensities among farms in all crops, and among the sensitivity elasticities the highest one was related to environmental impacts on soil C change. The high variation in GHG intensities evident in our study implies the potential for significant mitigation of GHG emissions. The GHG emissions per kg DM (intensity) decreased with increasing gross margin in grain and oilseed crops, suggesting that crop producers have economic incentives to reduce GHG emissions.

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  • Bonesmo, Helge & Skjelvåg, Arne Oddvar & Henry Janzen, H. & Klakegg, Ove & Tveito, Ole Einar, 2012. "Greenhouse gas emission intensities and economic efficiency in crop production: A systems analysis of 95 farms," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 142-151.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:110:y:2012:i:c:p:142-151
    DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2012.04.001

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Chen, Suyin & Zhang, Xiying & Sun, Hongyong & Ren, Tusheng & Wang, Yanmei, 2010. "Effects of winter wheat row spacing on evapotranpsiration, grain yield and water use efficiency," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 97(8), pages 1126-1132, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Korsaeth, Audun & Henriksen, Trond Maukon & Roer, Anne-Grete & Hammer Strømman, Anders, 2014. "Effects of regional variation in climate and SOC decay on global warming potential and eutrophication attributable to cereal production in Norway," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 9-18.
    2. Banaszuk, Piotr & Wysocka-Czubaszek, Agnieszka & Czubaszek, Robert & Roj-Rojewski, Sławomir, 0. "Skutki energetycznego wykorzystania biomasy," Village and Agriculture (WieÅ› i Rolnictwo), Polish Academy of Sciences (IRWiR PAN), Institute of Rural and Agricultural Development, issue 4.
    3. Wang, Wen, 2015. "Intégrer l'agriculture dans les politiques d'atténuation chinoises," Economics Thesis from University Paris Dauphine, Paris Dauphine University, number 123456789/14999 edited by Perthuis, Christian de, October.
    4. Wen Wang & Liping Guo & Yingchun Li & Man Su & Yuebin Lin & Christian Perthuis & Xiaotang Ju & Erda Lin & Dominic Moran, 2015. "Greenhouse gas intensity of three main crops and implications for low-carbon agriculture in China," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 57-70, January.
    5. repec:eee:agisys:v:157:y:2017:i:c:p:157-169 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Farm scale; Crop production; Soil C; Soil N2O; Stochastic simulation; Profitability;

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