Change in carbon footprint of canola production in the Canadian Prairies from 1986 to 2006


Shrestha, B.M., Desjardins, R.L., McConkey, B.G., Worth, D.E., Dyer, J.A., Cerkowniak, D.D. (2014). Change in carbon footprint of canola production in the Canadian Prairies from 1986 to 2006. Renewable Energy, [online] 63 634-641.


Accounting for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the production stage of a bioenergy crop is essential for evaluating its eco-efficiency. The objective of this study was to calculate the change in GHG emissions for canola (Brassica napus L.) production on the Canadian Prairies from 1986 to 2006. Net GHG emissions in the sub-humid and semi-arid climatic zones were estimated for fallow-seeded and stubble-seeded canola in intensive-, reduced- and no-tillage systems, with consideration given to emissions associated with synthetic nitrogen (N) fertilizer input, mineralized N from crop residues, N leaching and volatilization, farm operations, the manufacturing and transportation of fertilizer, agrochemicals and farm machinery, and emission and removal of CO2 associated with changes in land use (LUC) and land management (LMC). The GHG emissions on an area basis were higher in stubble-seeded canola than in fallow-seeded canola but, the opposite was true on a grain dry matter (DM) basis. Nitrous oxide emissions associated with canola production, CO2 emissions associated with farm energy use and the manufacturing of synthetic N fertilizer and its transportation contributed 49% of the GHG emissions in 1986 which increased to 66% in 2006. Average CO2 emissions due to LUC decreased from 27% of total GHG emissions in 1986 to 8% in 2006 and soil C sequestration due to LMC increased from 8% to 37%, respectively. These changes caused a reduction in net GHG emission intensities of 40% on an area basis and of 65% on a grain DM basis. Despite the reduction in GHG emission intensities, GHG emissions associated with canola in the Prairies increased from 3.4TgCO2equiv in 1986 to 3.8TgCO2equiv in 2006 because of the more than doubling of canola production. © 2013.