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Climate mitigation in agricultural production systems through sustainable resource management
August 2014 until July 2018
976.315 € funded by BMBF: Nachwuchsgruppen Globaler Wandel – 4 + 1
Christoph Müller

Agricultural production does not only provide goods (food, feed, fiber, fuel) to societies, but also drives environmental degradation and climate change, with agriculture being the most important emitter of non-CO2 greenhouse gases (GHGs). This research project intends to study the options to reduce GHG emissions from agriculture through an improved set of management options in cropland production. For this, the need to increase production to feed a growing population as well as the need to reduce soil and water degradation to sustain the most important production means have to be accounted for as binding constraints. The main objective of this research project is the quantification of the reduction potential of GHG emissions from the agricultural sector. To this end, several strands will have to be combined: (1) identification of major management options in cropland production and quantification of their impacts on productivity and the environment, (2) implementation of the corresponding processes into a global processbased simulation model of agricultural systems and biogeochemical fluxes, (3)assessments of intensification potentials and global change challenges to secure food supply. The concluding assessment of the agricultural potential to mitigate climate change is determined by the interaction between management options to increase productivity, management options to sustain land’s productivity and the expansion of agricultural land. The sensitivity of findings to assumptions on population growth, diets, and climate change will be explicitly addressed. Findings will advance the scientific understanding of mitigation options and will inform decision makers on local, regional and global scales.

The overall goal of this research project is to quantify the climate mitigation potential of agricultural production under increasing demand for agricultural products and other secondary requirements to agriculture like reduced water consumption and increased nature conservation. A process-based simulation model will be extended to cover more detailed soil and nutrient dynamics in order to address management effects on agricultural productivity, greenhouse gas emissions and resource degradation. No economic utilization is envisaged for this project but it aims at filling important scientific knowledge gaps to inform agricultural and climate policies at national, European and global levels.