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Biogenic emissions of greenhouse gases caused by arable and animal agriculture

Contract nr: FAIR-CT96-1877
Project nr: 1877
Project type: CA
Starting date: 01/01/1997
Duration: 36 months
Total cost: 620,000 EUR
EC Contribution: 440,000 EUR
Scientific Officer: Muriel HUYBRECHTS
Research topic: Plant health

The main aim of project is to evaluate and summarise the activities concerning estimation of the emissions of greenhouse gases from arable and animal agriculture in a Concerted Action. The focus will be on CO2 production from decomposing humus, N2O and CH4 from agricultural soils and CH4 from the production of meat and other animal products such as milk. The influence of the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) on the development of these emissions during the last two decades will also be demonstrated. This allows conclusions on how the policy should framed, and on which main priorities should be set to minimise the influence of arable and animal agriculture on the anthropogenic greenhouse effect.

The specific objectives of this Concerted Action are:
1) to write a state-of-the-art report - containing up- to-date results from ongoing measurement programmes and a list of emission factors for different circumstances and different regions within Europe - as a data base for other researchers, for the Commission and for other national and international groups and organisations (e.g. CECD, IPCC);
2) to summarise the most important factors influencing the CO2, N2O and CH4 emissions with regard to the development of possible prevention and abatement strategies;
3) to try to adjust the standards and define minimum requirements for measurement methods to ensure better transfer and interpretation of the results gathered by all relevant groups currently conducting measurement programmes on these emissions;
4) to develop an acceptable standard methodology for the estimation of the overall emissions of these greenhouse gases within different countries and across Europe during the last two decades;
5) to estimate the overall emissions and to discuss the changes in relation to the European CAP;
6) to draw conclusions about the contribution of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by arable and animal agriculture in relation to the overall greenhouse gas emissions within Europe, and to analyse the changes during the last two decades.

These objectives should serve to point out unanswered questions as well as gaps in knowledge, and to identify the needs for further R & D. A list of institutions, research centres, universities and other active groups working in this field will also be drawn up, to provide an easy access to relevant information.

Current situation/results:
The objectives (1) to (4) have been fulfilled, and (5) is in progress. New emission factors - and hence a refined methodology for the estimation of CH4 and N2O emissions from European agriculture - have been defined for the N2O sources grasslands, arable soils, farmed organic soils, animal houses, and manure storage, for the CH4 sources animal houses and manure storage, and for the CH4 sink agricultural soils. These allow us to account for climate, soil and management in order to better describe the variability in N2O emissions from agricultural soils. In animal husbandry, the new emission factors address the origin of greenhouse gases in the whole manure chain, by addressing new sources. These emission factors are currently used for the calculation of a greenhouse gas budget for European agriculture. Promising greenhouse gas mitigation options have been identified and discussed at an international conference organised in the frame of the project. All methodologies currently available in Europe for field and farm-based measurements of greenhouse gas fluxes have been assessed with respect to their applicability to specific research objectives, and a set of minimum requirements has been described which is to be met if the obtained data is to be useful for greenhouse gas inventories. Moreover, a list of active working groups in Europe has been compiled, and needs for further R & D have been identified at several workshops with the project partners and external experts. The reports should be finalised in the course of the next few months.

Universität Stuttgart
Pfaffenwaldring 31
D-70550 Stuttgart
Tel.: +49 711 780 61 16
Fax: +49 711 780 61 77


  • Ghislain GOSSE
    Centre de Recherche de Grignon
    Unité de Recherches en Bioclimatologie
    F-78850 Thiverval-Grignon
    Tel.: +33 1 30 81 55 24
    Fax: +33 1 30 81 55 63

  • Laura VALLI
    Centro Ricerche Produzioni Animali
    Corso Garibaldi 42
    I-42100 Reggio Emilia
    Tel.: +39 052 243 69 99
    Fax: +39 052 243 51 42

  • Heinz-Juergen AHLGRIMM
    FAL - Bundesforschungsanstalt fuer Landwirtschaft
    Bundesallee 50
    D-38116 Braunschweig
    Tel.: +49 531 59 65 12
    Fax: +49 531 59 63 63

  • Soren O. PETERSEN
    Danish Institute of Agricultural Science
    Research Centre Foulum
    P.O. BOX 23
    DK-8830 Tjele
    Tel.: +45 89 99 17 23
    Fax: +45 89 99 17 19

  • Martin SCHMID
    Swiss Federal Research Station for Agroecology and Agriculture
    Schwarzenburgstrasse 155
    CH-3097 Liebefeld-Bern
    Tel.: +41 3 13 23 83 76
    Fax: +41 3 13 23 84 15

  • Arjan HENSEN
    Netherlands Energy Research Foundation
    Westerduinweg 3
    P.O. BOX 1
    NL-1755 ZG Petten
    Tel.: +31 224 56 42 03
    Fax: +31 224 56 34 88

  • Victor Roger PHILLIPS
    Silsoe Research Institute
    Wrest Park
    UK-MK45 4HS Silsoe, Bedford
    Tel.: +44 1525 86 00 00
    Fax: +44 1525 86 17 35

  • Manfred WOERGETTER
    Bundesanstalt fuer Landtechnik
    Rottenhauserstraße 1
    P.O. BOX 43
    A-3250 Wieselburg Niederösterreich
    Tel.: +43 741 65 21 75 30
    Fax: +43 741 65 21 75 45


    Swedish Environmental Research Institute
    Dagjamningsgatan 1
    S-402 58 Göteborg
    Tel.: +46 13 28 22 94
    Fax: +46 13 13 36 30
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