Since Canadian agriculture accounted for 8% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2013, and agriculture is also susceptible to the impacts of climate change resulting from greenhouse gas emissions, implementing changes to crop management practices that affect greenhouse gas emissions is important.
The climate impact indicator estimates the emissions of two greenhouse gases associated with crop production: carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Carbon dioxide is produced when fuel is burned, either for fieldwork or for the production and transportation of inputs such as fertilizer. Nitrous oxide emissions from agricultural soils come mainly from fertilizers, manure, crop residues and mineralization of native soil organic matter.
Nitrous oxide is a powerful greenhouse gas, almost three hundred times as potent as carbon dioxide, and is the primary driver of greenhouse gas emissions in crop production. As nitrogen fertilizer is a key driver of nitrous oxide emissions, nitrogen use efficiency is important for the performance of the Climate impact indicator.
The CFPC also models the change in soil organic carbon in Western Canada. Soil organic carbon is an important measure of soil health, and changes in soil carbon can decrease greenhouse gas emissions. The Canadian Field Print Calculator models the impact that tillage intensity, summerfallow management, and the management of perennial forages have on soil organic carbon.
Note: The Calculator cannot be used to model soil organic carbon changes as effectively in Eastern Canada,because researchers in Canada are less able to quantify the impact of several management practices, including cover crops, organic amendments and residue management, on soil organic carbon in Eastern Canada.
More information: Both the greenhouse gas emissions and the soil carbon change estimates are based largely on modelling algorithms used by Agriculture and Agrifood Canada in their Holos modelling software. Users can select scenarios and farm management practices (including both crops and livestock) and then adjust these practices to see the effect on emissions.