Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program: Phase I

The Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program (AGGP) supports projects that will create technologies, practices and processes that can be adopted by farmers to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These projects will also help farmers increase their understanding of GHG emissions.

The AGGP represents Canada's initial contribution to the Global Research Alliance, an international network of more than 30 member-countries that will coordinate and increase agricultural research on greenhouse gas mitigation and develop new mitigation technologies and beneficial management practices available to farmers. 

Collaborators for this project include Dalhousie University, University of Saskatchewan and University of Guelph. 

Pictures are available here; watch the video here.

Overview

This project addresses the Agricultural Water Use Efficiency priority of the Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The research team has studied the effects of different agricultural water management strategies viz. sprinkler irrigation, drip irrigation, and water table management on greenhouse gas emissions –nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, and methane– in various crop production systems in Eastern Canada.

Phase I (completed)

The first phase of this project entertained four years of extensive scientific and economic data collected from farms in Quebec, Ontario, and Nova Scotia, and has led to new analytical models and assessment tools for greenhouse gas mitigation strategies under intensive agricultural production systems. A very significant database on greenhouse gas emissions has been created, which can help drive policy decision making, and to inform the setting of realistic targets in climate change policy. Research results will provide agricultural producers with verified water management strategies that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance economic competitiveness of the Canadian agri-food sector.

The project had a very strong outreach and training component. Research results have been shared with agricultural producer groups and researchers. Canadian capacity in greenhouse gas mitigation has been strengthened by the training of several new scientists in the study regions.

Findings:

  • N2O and CO2 were more prominently influenced by fertilizer application and environmental parameters (i.e. spring thaw, precipitation, temperature). This suggests that controlling nitrogen substrates and soil moisture can be favourable to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Organic soils have a large spatial variability of GHG emissions. Greenhouse gas fluxes were very sporadic, suggesting a presence of microsites (i.e., “hot spots” and “hot moments”) which produced more greenhouse gases than other areas in the same field.
  • For most sites, methane fluxes were found to be negative indicating that the agricultural soils were methane sinks.
  • The cranberry fields in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, Quebec, were not significant sources of greenhouse gases throughout most of the growing season. However, flooding the fields increased the production of CO2 and CH4.
  • The adoption of BMPs by farmers was found to be influenced by the profit margins, crop prices, initial cost of the water management system, and availability of investment capital.