Does the adoption of zero tillage reduce greenhouse gas emissions? An assessment for the grains industry in Australia

Maraseni, T. N. and Cockfield, G. (2011) Does the adoption of zero tillage reduce greenhouse gas emissions? An assessment for the grains industry in Australia. Agricultural Systems, 104 (6). pp. 451-458. ISSN 0308-521X


The Australian Government has recommended that farmers move from cultivation-based dryland farming to reduced or zero tillage systems. The private benefits could include improvements in yields and a decrease in costs while the public benefits could include a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions due to a diminution in the use of heavy machinery. The aim of this study is to estimate and compare total on-farm GHG emissions from conventional and zero tillage systems based on selected grain crop rotations
in the Darling Downs region of Queensland, Australia. The value chain was identified, including all inputs, and emissions. In addition, studies of soil carbon sequestration and nitrous oxide emissions under the different cropping systems were reviewed.
The value chain analysis revealed that the net effect on GHG emissions by switching to zero tillage is positive but relatively small. In addition though, the review of the sequestration studies suggests that there might be soil-based emissions that result from zero tillage that are being under-estimated. Therefore, zero tillage may not necessarily reduce overall GHG emissions. This could have major implication on current carbon credits offered from volunteer carbon markets for converting conventional tillage to reduced tillage system.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to published version due to publisher copyright policy.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Business and Law - No Department
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2011 05:49
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2014 02:48
Uncontrolled Keywords: Darling Downs; greenhouse gas emissions; zero tillage; conventional tillage; farm inputs
Fields of Research : 07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070108 Sustainable Agricultural Development
05 Environmental Sciences > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050301 Carbon Sequestration Science
09 Engineering > 0999 Other Engineering > 099901 Agricultural Engineering
Socio-Economic Objective: D Environment > 96 Environment > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960302 Climate Change Mitigation Strategies
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2011.03.002

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