Researchers have shown, for the first time, that manure used to fertilize croplands in spring and summer can dramatically increase greenhouse gas emissions in winter. While it's known that farmers' decisions to add nutrients to their fields affects greenhouse gas emissions during the growing season, the study is the first to show that these choices have long-lasting effects, especially as winters warm and soils thaw more frequently.
Decisions farmers make over the spring and summer can dramatically increase greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions later in the winter.
That's a key takeaway from a new University of Vermont study that shows, for the first time, that the impacts of farmers' manure use decisions extend beyond the growing season to influence emissions on warm winter days.
"This could have big impacts as winters become warmer and soils thaw more frequently," said lead author Carol Adair, of UVM's Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources and Gund Institute for Environment. "If croplands move farther north with warming climates, this could increase the contributions of agriculture to global GHG emissions."
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