Biogeosciences Discuss., 10, 16879-16902, 2013
www.biogeosciences-discuss.net/10/16879/2013/
doi:10.5194/bgd-10-16879-2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
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This discussion paper is under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).
Eco-efficient agriculture for producing higher yields with lower greenhouse gas emissions: a case study of intensive irrigation wheat production in China
Z. L. Cui1, Y. L. Ye2, W. Q. Ma3, X. P. Chen1, and F. S. Zhang1
1Center for Resources, Environment and Food Security, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China
2College of Resources and Environmental Science, Henan Agricultural University, Zhengzhou 450000, China
3College of Resources and Environmental Science, Hebei Agricultural University, Baoding 071001, China

Abstract. Although the concept of producing higher yields with reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is a goal that attracts increasing public and scientific attention, the tradeoff between crop productivity and GHG emissions in intensive agricultural production is not well understood. In this study, we investigated 33 sites of on-farm experiments to evaluate the tradeoff between grain yield and GHG emissions using two systems (conventional practice, CP; high-yielding systems, HY) of intensive irrigation wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) in China. Furthermore, we discussed the potential to produce higher yields with lower GHG emissions based on a survey of 2938 farmers. However, in both the HY and CP systems, wheat grain yield response to GHG emissions fit a linear-plateau model, whereas the curve for grain yield from the HY system was always higher than that from the CP system. Compared to the CP system, grain yield was 44% (2.6 Mg ha–1) higher in the HY system, while GHG emissions increased by only 2.5%, and GHG emission intensity was reduced by 29%. The current intensive irrigation wheat system with farmers' practice had a median yield and maximum GHG emission rate of 6.05 Mg ha–1 and 4783 kg CO2 eq ha–1, respectively; however, this system can be transformed to maintain yields while reducing GHG emissions by 40% (5.96 Mg ha–1, and 2890 kg CO2 eq ha–1). Further, the HY system was found to increase grain yield by 41% with a simultaneous reduction in GHG emissions by 38% (8.55 Mg ha–1, and 2961 kg CO2 eq ha–1, respectively). In the future, we suggest moving the tradeoff relationships and calculations from grain yield and GHG emissions, to new measures of productivity and environmental protection using innovative management technologies. This shift in focus is critical to achieve food and environmental security.

Citation: Cui, Z. L., Ye, Y. L., Ma, W. Q., Chen, X. P., and Zhang, F. S.: Eco-efficient agriculture for producing higher yields with lower greenhouse gas emissions: a case study of intensive irrigation wheat production in China, Biogeosciences Discuss., 10, 16879-16902, doi:10.5194/bgd-10-16879-2013, 2013.
 
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