Agricultural Contributions to Carbon Sequestration

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1 Agricultural Contributions to Carbon Sequestration Dr. Maurice Moloney Exec. Director and CEO 10 January 2018

2 GIFS Vision & Mission Create ingenious science that delivers sustainable food security for the world Meeting the needs of global food security will not be achieved by incremental innovation alone Step changes in our ability to produce higher quantities of high-quality food will be needed Bring new technologies to producers in Western Canada to boost income and opportunities Bring appropriate technologies to a disenfranchised 860 million people around the world who live a subsistence farming lifestyle 2

3 GIFS Research Programs Focused research programs & capabilities to move from idea to application Seed Development and Quality Genetics of the seed determine input costs and value of the product Root & Soil Biology Interaction of roots, soil and the microbiome determine productivity and sustainability Digital Agricultural The confluence between ICT and agriculture is transforming farming and food production Crops Wheat Cereals Canola Pulses Technology Crop Genomics Bioinformatics 3

4 What s so bad about Carbon and why does it have such a bad reputation?

5 When is a pollutant not a pollutant? Carbon monoxide Carbon dioxide

6 When is a pollutant not a pollutant? Carbon monoxide Carbon dioxide

7 All life on the planet depends on Carbon dioxide

8 Sequestering Carbon through photosynthesis

9 What has been changing? The reason for concern

10 The risk of increasing CO 2 levels in the atmosphere This is compounded, by the potential for knock-on effects

11 If CO 2 has been on such a steep rise since the Industrial Revolution how come we haven t already reached CO 2 levels of 600ppm?

12 Volume 40, Issue June 2013 Pages Impact of CO 2 fertilization on maximum foliage cover across the globe's warm, arid environments Impact of CO 2 Randall J. Donohue, Tim R. McVicar, Graham D. Farquhar, Michael L. Roderick, 19 June 2013 Full publication history Using gas exchange theory, we predict that the 14% increase in atmospheric CO 2 ( ) led to a 5 to 10% increase in green foliage cover in warm, arid environments. Satellite observations, analyzed to remove the effect of variations in precipitation, show that cover across these environments has increased by 11%. Our results confirm that the anticipated CO 2 fertilization effect is occurring alongside ongoing anthropogenic perturbations to the carbon cycle and that the fertilization effect is now a significant land surface process

13 Agriculture as a Solution, not a Problem We hear frequently about how agriculture must adapt in order to survive in the face of climate change. We hear far less about how agriculture provides the basis for climate change mitigation. The Greening of the Earth and its drivers : Zhu et al (2015) Nature Climate Change During , we have seen a persistent and widespread increase of growing season integrated LAI* (greening) over 25% to 50% of the global vegetated area, whereas less than 4% of the globe shows decreasing LAI (browning). Factorial simulations with multiple global ecosystem models suggest that CO 2 fertilization effects explain 70% of the observed greening trend * Leaf Area Index

14 Rather than divest, advocate for carbon balancing April 28, am EDT

15 Factors that can Affect Carbon Balancing Reforestation (Boreal) No-till agriculture (energy and reduced soil erosion) Nutrient- and water-efficient crops Increasing photosynthetic rates Sequestering biomass in the soil Biological nitrogen fixation

16 Canada s Boreal Forests are a massive carbon sink The report said the billion tonnes of carbon estimated to be stored by Canada's boreal forest and peatland was equivalent to 26 years worth of the world's 2006 carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning. Carlson, M., Wells, J. and Roberts, D The Carbon the World Forgot: Conserving the Capacity of Canada s Boreal Forest Region to Mitigate and Adapt to Climate Change. Boreal Songbird Initiative and Canadian Boreal Initiative.

17 No till has sequestered previously lost carbon and reversed dangerous erosion No tilling is a farming practice that keeps more carbon in the soil, rather than sending it into the atmosphere. Here soybeans grow next to residue from wheat crop, which reduces erosion and maintains moisture for the new crop. Tim McCabe/USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

18 Research on Canadian climate change estimate Canadian cropland can store or sequester as much as 22 million tonnes of atmospheric carbon dioxide per year by using best management practices such as zero tillage. It is further estimated that grazing land can store another three million tonnes of carbon dioxide through improved grass production and proper grazing management

19 Breeding crop plants with deep roots: their role in sustainable carbon, nutrient and water sequestration D.B. Kell (2011) Annals of Botany 108: ,

20 The carbon being produced from fossil fuel burning is about 8.4 Gt year -1. Roots could conservatively absorb this at the rate of 50 t ha -1 requiring some ha D.B. Kell (2011) Annals of Botany 108:

21 Potential Benefits to Growers Western Canada is in a unique position to play a critical role in achieving Canadian commitments to carbon emission reductions. What if we could achieve an additional 10 tonnes per hectare of sequestration through biomass, with about 50M hectares arable land available in Canada? 500M $20 per tonne carbon = $10 billion No-till alone added 22M tonnes carbon to the soil in Western Canada equivalent to $440M.

22 All photosynthesis is not created equal eg: Canola, Wheat eg: Corn, Sugarcane

23 PLANT SCIENCE 18 NOVEMBER 2016 VOL 354 ISSUE 6314 Improving photosynthesis and crop productivity by accelerating recovery from photoprotection. Kromdijk et al 20% yield increases in field grown crop

24 Concluding remarks Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, it is essential to life However, the earth could suffer from too much of a good thing Photosynthesis (terrestrial and oceanic) is a major thermostat of CO 2 levels Increased CO 2 levels result in substantial yield increases Taxation on emissions? However, levels beyond where we are now (400ppm) pose very substantial risks Agriculture and forestry sequesters massive amounts of carbon, and already offsets a substantial portion of fossil fuel emissions Canada is a special case, with a low population and vast CO 2 sequestration potential, probably net positive Credits for sequestration?

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