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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Cover crops may be used to mitigate and adapt to climate change

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April 17, 2017 Penn State see full ScienceDaily article here

Cover crops long have been touted for their ability to reduce erosion, fix atmospheric nitrogen, reduce nitrogen leaching and improve soil health, but they also may play an important role in mitigating the effects of climate change on agriculture.

..cover-crop effects on greenhouse-gas fluxes typically mitigate warming by 100-150 grams of carbon per square meter per year, which is comparable to, and perhaps higher than, mitigation from transitioning to no-till….significantly, the surface albedo change — the proportion of energy from sunlight reflecting off of farm fields due to cover cropping — … may mitigate 12 to 46 grams of carbon per square meter per year over a 100-year time horizon,” Kaye wrote.

…”Farmers and policymakers can expect cover cropping simultaneously to benefit soil quality, water quality and climate-change adaptation and mitigation,” he wrote.

“Overall, we found very few tradeoffs between cover cropping and climate-change mitigation and adaptation, suggesting that ecosystem services that are traditionally expected from cover cropping can be promoted synergistically with services related to climate change.”

Jason P. Kaye, Miguel Quemada. Using cover crops to mitigate and adapt to climate change. A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 2017; 37 (1) DOI: 10.1007/s13593-016-0410-x

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