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Quantifying Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Effectiveness through the GRA Croplands Greenhouse Gas Network

Mark Liebig (coordinator)


This project will quantify greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation potential of cropland management practices around the world using a recently developed and expanding database coordinated by the Global Research Alliance (GRA) Croplands Research Group. To meet this goal, a Project Team of research scientists from seven countries has been assembled, each representing GRA member countries. The team will work collectively to gather, analyze, and disseminate relevant published GHG data from major agroecoregions throughout the world in order to identify promising mitigation strategies, potential ecosystem service tradeoffs associated with such strategies, and critical research gaps. Outcomes from this collaborative effort will also serve to improve predictive capabilities of process-based models.
Specific objectives of this project include: 1) quantify the effectiveness of specific mitigation practices (e.g., fertilizer type/rate, tillage, crop rotation, residue management, cover crop, livestock integration, etc.) for arable crops throughout the world using meta-analysis, 2) quantify potential tradeoffs in GHG mitigation and crop yield, 3) identify and communicate critical data gaps, and 4) facilitate communication and cooperation among member countries in GRA research groups to improve predictive capabilities of process-based models. Proposed activities will contribute key validation data to the GRA Soil C/N Crosscutting Research Group, focused on modeling soil C and N dynamics in agricultural systems.
The project will be conducted in four phases: 1) retrieve GHG emissions and SOC stock change data from published studies conducted by member countries, 2) validate data and conduct meta-analyses across >200 experimental sites, 3) disseminate results to GRA partners and the public, and 4) interface with a C-and-N-modeling team in the Croplands and Soil C/N Crosscutting Research Groups to validate and improve predictive capabilities of process-based models for estimating GHG emissions from multiple agroecoregions represented by member and non-member GRA countries. Using input from partners in North and South America, Europe, and East Asia, a data entry spreadsheet has been developed - it encompasses background characteristics (e.g., climate, soil attributes, experimental treatments), major findings (e.g., soil C stocks, GHG flux, crop yield, etc.), and citations of journal articles associated with experimental sites. This recently developed spreadsheet will be the foundation of this project to conduct meta-analyses of GHG emissions and SOC stock changes, provide a source of robust data to test models, and eventually to be incorporated into the Research Data Alliance ( for general sharing of published data. Collectively, activities associated with this proposed project will contribute significantly to the Croplands Research Group, which seeks to reduce GHG intensity of cropland systems.