ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: July 17, 2013

Green farming could offset greenhouse gas emissions

"Returning Carbon to the Farm"
Chemical & Engineering News

Mention major human-related sources of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, and people usually think of coal-fired electric power plants, car and truck tailpipes and industry smokestacks. But an article in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) focuses on an often overlooked source of the gas and how to deal with it. That source is farming, according to the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.

Deirdre Lockwood, C&EN contributing editor, points out that about one-third of the carbon dioxide that humans had added to the atmosphere by the end of the 20th century came from agricultural practices. Those include clearing and plowing forests and grasslands for use in raising crops.

The article explains that policymakers, scientists and environmental groups are now encouraging adoption of farming and land-management approaches that both replenish carbon in the soil and offset CO2 emissions. One approach, for instance, involves substituting organic fertilizers for synthetic products. By some estimates, such efforts could sock away an amount of CO2 equal to about 10 percent of global emissions from fossil fuels.