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

What about biochar?

There is good evidence that biochar (organic matter carbonised under controlled conditions) represents a very stable form of carbon, so it could be used to store more carbon in soils. Research has indicated that specific biochars could also help reduce nitrous oxide emissions although the specific mechanisms are not yet clear; other potential benefits for improving soil functions and reducing emissions from pastures are also being tested. However, the main challenge at present to any widespread use of biochar in a pastoral system remains its cost, which makes this strategy not yet economically feasible for NZ farmers.

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