The December 2020 issue of the CRG Newsletter is now available!
This issue includes:
- Cropland Research Group GRA Co-Chairs message
- Integrated silvopastoral systems towards a sustainable management
- Climate and environmental change in the Mediterranean basin: current situation and risks for the future
- Pilot study in citrus on the soil and plant improvement from enriched pruning remains to reduce the greenhouse effect (PODA-VAL)
- Agroecology for Europe (AE4EU)
- Special issue on climate change impacts, mitigation and adaptation in croplands
- Upcoming events
The full newsletter is linked below:
Ackim Mwape, PhD
The key role that livestock activity data plays in the development and application of national GHG inventories has been widely recognised and discussed. In order to design and implement Tier 2 MRV methods, appropriate data on the characteristics and performance of different sub-categories of livestock is needed.
Unfortunately, such data are not always available, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where it remains a challenge to collect data, and move countries towards having detailed (at least Tier 2) baselines for livestock emissions estimates to support their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
Recognising that the level of availability of livestock sector activity data is currently unknown in most sub-Saharan African countries, New Zealand, through the GRA and in collaboration with regional and international partners, supported the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) and University of Pretoria to survey and analyse the availability of activity data (cattle populations) and data required for emission factors (animal performance data).
Livestock sector activity data were collated and collected from 37 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa. The data collection exercise, undertaken in 2020, aimed to increase understanding of the currently available and collected in-country livestock activity data for Tier 2 estimates of livestock emissions.
“The data collection exercise is an important first step in helping African countries improve estimates of national livestock emissions and mitigation at Tier 2 levels and decision-support for achieving NDCs and tracking NDC performance in the livestock sector”, says Hayden Montgomery, GRA Special Representative.
The results of the data collection and analysis suggest high potential to pilot a regional inventory development approach, particularly in southern Africa. For the majority countries, data availability will still be a challenge, and collecting all the missing data may not be feasible in the short run.
A temporary solution could be to systematically group countries with similar production systems, and informed by data where available, develop a regional template for livestock GHG inventories, which can be adapted to national conditions, validated, and adopted by stakeholders in each country. This could support countries to move from Tier 1 MRV methods to Tier 2 methods which are better able to reflect actual production conditions and their impact on GHG emissions.
This first round of RUFORUM awards has been announced and will support participatory action research and training on topics related to the measurement and management of greenhouse gas emissions and removals in pastoral and agro-pastoral ruminant livestock farming systems in Africa.
Eight award recipients from universities in Benin, DR Congo, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda were announced in November 2020. These awardees are currently working on agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation research projects, specifically on soil organic carbon, methane and nitrous oxide emissions, manure management, livestock fodder value chains and feed balances, modelling of grassland biome, and quantification of above ground and ground biomass.
Each award will support a Principal Investigator (an individual senior lecturer of a RUFORUM member university) and training of at least two Master of Science students (one of whom should be a female) for two years.
Supporting the development of capability in African universities will be crucial to support Africa to respond to the goals established by the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as national and regional priorities of African States.
“Addressing the global challenges of climate change and food security through science, technology and innovation as aspired in the African Union Agenda 2063 requires achieving a critical mass of well-educated citizens with requisite skills to revolutionise production and delivery of goods and services”. Prof Adipala Ekwamu, RUFORUM Executive Secretary
These were the words of Prof Adipala Ekwamu, RUFORUM Executive Secretary, during the launch of the GRA-RUFORUM Graduate Research Grants aimed at providing opportunity for quality research on topical issues while training the next generation of scientists for Africa.
As part of their contribution to addressing the global challenges of climate change, the Governments of New Zealand and the Netherlands have funded eight GRA-Graduate Research Grants through a Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) awards programme.
RUFORUM is a consortium of 129 Universities in 38 African countries with the mission to strengthen the capacities of universities to foster innovations responsive to the demands of small-holder farmers (www.ruforum.org).
For the long-term advancement of the GRA-RUFORM awards programme, it is hoped and indeed necessary that more GRA partner institutions and countries join the Government’s of New Zealand, the Netherlands and RUFORUM to support participatory action research and training in Africa.
Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia and Senegal have communicated agriculture sector specific mitigation measures in their updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC’s). All five countries have unconditional economy wide emission reduction targets of 29% – 54% in 2030 relative to their BAU (or 2010 base year emissions for Zambia).
Including agriculture specific mitigation measures in the NDC is especially significant given agriculture emissions are key drivers of emissions across the five African countries, albeit responsible for variable proportions of the total emission profile. Implementing these mitigation measures will face different barriers in each country but communicating the intention to mitigate agriculture emissions is the first step.
Key points from each country’s enhanced NDC as they relate to agriculture emissions are summarised here.
- Kenya’s enhanced NDC communicates an economy wide emission reduction target relative to BAU in 2030 of at least 32%.
- Key policies for agriculture emission reductions include the National Livestock Policy 2015, the Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS) (2019 – 2029), the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Strategy (2017 – 2028) among others.
- Mitigation measures for Agriculture Sector emissions will be achieved by Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) in line with Kenya’s CSA Strategy, “with emphasis to efficient livestock management systems”.
- Kenya’s adaptation measures include using CSA practices to increase livestock system efficiencies and to build resilience of agriculture systems through sustainable land management.
- The BAU analysis is based on a newly adopted Tier 2 inventory for livestock GHG emissions and livestock are projected to be the biggest single emission source in 2030 in the BAU scenario
- Ethiopia’s economy wide emissions reduction target relative to BAU in 2030 is 12.4% unconditional and a further 41.1% conditional on international support to a total reduction of 53.5%.
- Of the total livestock emission reductions will contribute 30.4 MtCO2e or 13.8% of the total 220.59 MtCO2e required by 2030 across all sectors.
- Mitigation measures will be achieved predominantly as improvements to agriculture production efficiencies and changes to agricultural practices.
Figure 1: Rwanda’s economy wide mitigation contributions in 2030.
- Rwanda’s economy wide emission reduction target relative to BAU in 2030 is 16% unconditional (1.9 MtCO2e) and a further 22% (2.7 MtCO2e) conditional on international support, to a combined total of 38% as shown in figure 1.
- Agriculture contributes 55% of Rwanda’s total emissions. The largest sources of emissions are methane from enteric fermentation in cattle systems, N2O emissions from managed soils and emissions from manure management.
- Rwanda’s agriculture mitigation measures will contribute 2.24 MtCO2e (figure 1) in 2030 and include a number of soil conservation practices, compost production and livestock measures.
- Adaptation measures for agriculture include developing and promoting climate resilient crops and livestock, adopting best crop management practices and developing sustainable land use management practices.
- Rwanda’s NDC is aligned with several existing national policies including the Green Growth and Climate Resilient Strategy (GGCRS) (2011).
Figure 2: Rwanda’s agriculture mitigation strategies as a percentage of the total mitigation potential of the agriculture sector.
- Zambia’s economy wide emissions reduction target relative to 2010 emission levels is 25% unconditional (20 MtCO2e) and a further 22% conditional on international support to a total reduction of 47% (38 MtCO2e) in 2030.
- Zambia’s major mitigation measures for agriculture are i) conservation and sustainable agriculture and ii) improving agriculture production efficiencies.
- Senegal’s economy wide emission reduction target relative to BAU in 2030 is 7% unconditional and a further 22% conditional on international support to a total reduction of 29%. This equates to unconditional emission reductions of 2.66 MtCO2e and a total of 11.2 MtCO2e in the conditional target.
- Agriculture emissions accounted for about 44% of Senegal’s total emissions in 2010.
- The emission reduction targets for agriculture are 0.25 MtCO2e in the unconditional and 1.27 MtCO2e in the conditional scenario.
- Agriculture mitigation measures are aligned with the Program to Relaunch and Accelerate the Cadence of Senegalese Agriculture (PRACAS2, 2019-2023) and the Livestock Development Policy (2017-2021)
- Mitigation measures include assisted natural regeneration, composting, biogas and implementing the system of rice intensification (SRI)
- Several adaptation measures are listed, including sustainable land management, agroforestry and use of early warning systems and climate information services.
A podcast centring around food systems and the various questions surrounding them is set to be released soon. Aptly titled Feed, the podcast will look at critical food systems issues, and aim to start a conversation about how we understand and engage with food systems. Feed is run by a collaboration between the University of Oxford, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Wagenigen University,
For further information and to listen to a teaser episode, click the button below:
Figure: Long-term experiment of conservation agriculture in Zimbabwe. A change in soil tillage and soil cover impacts SOC, GHGs, but also albedo. © Rémi Cardinael.
On 3-4 December 2020, the French Agricultural Research Center for International Development (CIRAD) and the CLAND Convergence Institute organized, with the support of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA) and the 4 per 1000 Initiative, a virtual workshop entitled “Can albedo change offset the climate benefit of carbon sequestrating practices?“. The overall objective was to discuss the relevance of current carbon-centered accounting systems to assess climate change mitigation potentials of land use change and management.
This workshop gathered twelve top keynote speakers to provide the most up-to-date knowledge about the potential offset or enhancement of the climate benefit of carbon sequestrating practices, identify knowledge gaps and propose a way forward for future research projects.
This virtual event gathered more than 300 participants, from 52 countries and 156 different institutes. Most of the participants (89%) were from universities and research centers, 60% were from Europe, 17% from Asia, and 14% from North America.
All presentations were recorded and available in replay here:
The climate benefit of best management practices is often quantified through the change in biochemical effects, i.e., soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks and greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions. However, biochemical effects do not stand alone. Planting trees, covering the soil, reducing tillage, adding organic amendments (compost, biochar…), etc, also modify biophysical effects, for example, albedo.
Surface albedo is the fraction of incident solar radiation that is reflected back to the atmosphere, measured on a scale from 0 (100% absorption, 0% reflection) to 1 (0% absorption, 100% reflection). A modification in surface albedo affects top-of-atmosphere albedo and thus the amount of solar energy absorbed by Earth.
It is now well documented that afforestation of boreal regions would have no climate benefit given the negative radiative forcing due to reduced atmospheric CO2 concentration by carbon sequestration in trees and soils (biochemical effect) is offset by decreased surface albedo (biophysical effect) leading to warming and a positive radiative forcing.
However, comparing biochemical and biophysical effects is not straightforward. There are differences in the spatial extent of the two forcings. CO2 is well-mixed in Earth’s atmosphere thus imposing a spatially homogeneous forcing while a change in surface albedo is more localized.
A lot of progress has been made to compare these effects, but metrics still need to be improved. The first day of the workshop was mainly focused on methodological aspects related to quantifying and comparing these effects, as well as on techniques to measure albedo from field studies to remote sensing. During the second day, keynote speakers presented different studies comparing biochemical and biophysical effects for different practices such as cover crops, chlorophyll-deficient crops, biochar, bioenergy crops and forest management.
It was concluded that biophysical effects are significant and failing to account for example for surface albedo can result in suboptimal or even counterproductive climate-motivated policies of the land-based sectors.
The climate benefit of biochar is for example largely reduced when albedo is considered. In contrast, cover crops in Central and West Europe as a general rule of thumb have been shown to increase SOC, reduce GHGs, and increase albedo, potentially a win-win-win strategy.
However, the effect of a given practice on climate is highly context-specific and could have undesirable effects depending on soil type and climate. More field data to explore a diversity of pedoclimatic contexts combined with a diversity of land use and management is required.
Biophysical effects are also very important contributing factors to mitigate local temperature extremes and can play a role in adaptation to climate change. At present, the description of management practices is too coarse in climate models and a better coupling these with soil-crop models could improve the assessment of practices on local, regional and global climate.
Albedo is not the only biophysical effect to consider. The change in the energy balance also has implications for the water cycle, especially for evapotranspiration. For example, forests have a lower albedo than crops or grasslands (warming effect), but a much higher evapotranspiration (cooling effect). Other aspects to consider are changes in surface roughness and emission of volatile organic compounds, affecting turbulent fluxes and the water cycle.
The role of biophysical effects such as albedo on climate change, in relation to management practices, has been scarcely studied, especially for non-forested ecosystems such as croplands and grasslands. The relationship between the two is a crucial information gap that must be filled in the coming decade by the scientific community.
The New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Centre is now looking for an experienced scientist to join their senior management team. As Deputy Director your duties include supporting the Director, developing greenhouse gas mitigation research programmes, contributing to domestic and international research contracts, establishing relationships with key stakeholders, providing knowledge on climate change and more!
An ideal candidate would have a PhD in a climate change related discipline, experience in leadership and an understanding of working with government departments and international fora. The position can be based in various locations, namely Hamilton, Christchurch, Dunedin and Palmerston North.
Applications close on the 10th of March 2021. For further information and information on how to apply, follow the link below.
On February the 23rd (1pm EST), FONTAGRO are running a webstream centring around how to build and support resilient agricultural systems. The event will focus on Latin America, Central America, the Caribbean and New Zealand, but resilient agriculture is a topic that will continue to become more prevalent as more is understood about climate change.
This webstream will be broadcast live on the FONTAGRO website, which is linked below in Spanish and English.
A collaborative working paper developed by Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Safety (CCAFS) as support by the GRA to the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CAC) has been released focusing on the development of an assessment framework. Countries can use this to assess needs and opportunities when it comes to improving measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock. The framework is made up of 13 questions that are then used in an 8-step assessment.
The report can be found in our library linked below:
Held virtually on the 9th and 10th of December in 2020, the CRG Annual Meeting provided a variety of updates on what the group is doing, and how work is continuing despite the global situation. A final report summarising the meeting can be found below:
The virtual presentations shown at the Annual Meeting can also be found on the GRA website here: