Plants & GHGs

The NZAGRC’s former nitrous oxide and soil carbon work streams were combined into one programme this year. This ensures a strong overall framework, closer communication and full GHG analyses across the programme. The programme focusses on three key areas:

1. Identifying and prioritising plant traits for low GHG emissions;

2. Mitigation practices to maintain soil carbon and reduce nitrous oxide emissions at paddock scale; and

3. Defining the achievable soil carbon stabilisation capacity of New Zealand grassland soils.

Current progress and research stories

Soil carbon: The impact of management practices

Converting a ryegrass/clover grassland to a sward with diverse species resulted in lower carbon losses than when regrassing with ryegrass/clover. Diverse swards also maintained the same level of dry matter production as the new ryegrass/clover mix, and both were greater than production from the old ryegrass/clover grassland.

Preliminary carbon balance studies for maize show large losses (most likely due to carbon offtakes during harvest) and the need for two cultivations (first to maize then to winter crop/permanent grassland). Measurements will be maintained to assess changes in soil carbon stocks for the full maize rotation, including both the import and export of maize feed.

  • Excerpt from the NZAGRC Highlights 2017 to be released in full shortly. Read more


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