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Research Could Lead to Nitrous Oxide Breakthrough

07 May 2013

DENMARK – Researchers from the University of Denmark now know more about how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with cultivating grassland.

Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) emissions from grass leys are damaging to the environment. Academics state that Nitrous oxide has a global warming potential of around 300 times higher that carbon dioxide.

This is of concern when grass is converted by methods such as ploughing.

However, field trials suggest that breaking up by using a cultivator so that decomposition takes place closer to the soil surface, then reducing nitrous emissions may be possible.

Commonly perceived to be good for the environment, grass fields frequently have nitrogen-fixing plants such as clover and Lucerne, which retain nitrogen and fix carbon dioxide.

But Danish researchers say that through decomposition, following ploughing, this is released. This is of importance as around 8 per cent of Danish farmland is grassland within conversion rotations.

The effect of worms on this process is largely unknown and is the subject of another study.

Picture Courtesy of Aarhus University, Denmark


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