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Farm-scale practical strategies to reduce carbon footprint and emergy while increasing economic benefits in crop production in the North China plain


Zou, J and Yang, Y and Shi, S and Li, W and Zhao, X and Huang, J and Zhang, H and Liu, K and Harrison, MT and Chen, F and Yin, X, Farm-scale practical strategies to reduce carbon footprint and emergy while increasing economic benefits in crop production in the North China plain, Journal of Cleaner Production Article 131996. ISSN 0959-6526 (In Press) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2022 Elsevier Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2022.131996


How to achieve China's "Carbon Peak" and "Carbon Neutrality" targets in the agriculture sector is crucial but still remains challenging. This study thus aims to assess the effects of crop rotations and farm size with optimized nitrogen (N) rate on carbon footprint (CF), emergy and economic benefits to promote agricultural transformation in the North China Plain (NCP) based on 792 on-farm questionnaires. Our results showed that the CF and emergy of wheat-soybean was 3245% and 2021% lower than that of wheat-maize and wheat-peanut mainly due to reduced N application by the biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) and pre-crop effects of soybean, while the farming net income (FNI) was lowest in the wheat-soybean mainly because of the low soybean yield. Furthermore, the sustainability performance index (SPI) was highest for wheat-soybean while lowest for wheat-maize. Large-size farms (LF, larger than 3.3 ha) efficiently reduced N rate without negatively influencing crop yield, thus decreasing CF and emergy compared to smallholders (SF, smaller than 3.3 ha), and the total farming profit was much higher in the LF due to the scale effect. Our results indicated that the joint application of increased soybean planting area in concert with larger farm size using optimized N rate was beneficial for reducing CF and emergy, but also increasing crop production in the NCP. However, low soybean yield was the critical factor that constrained soybean planting area in the NCP. We suggest that practical, cost-effective strategies to increase soybean yield with concurrent financial subsidies are urgently required to maximize the eco-benefits of wheat-soybean rotation in promoting agricultural green development in the NCP.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:net zero, carbon neutral, life-cycle assessment, ecosystems services, wheat, maize, soybean, barley, rice, soil carbon, greenhouse gas emissions, energy, profit, economics, income, fertilizer, nitrogen, nitrous oxide emissions, methane, adaptation
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Agriculture, land and farm management
Research Field:Agricultural production systems simulation
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Mitigation of climate change
Objective Field:Management of greenhouse gas emissions from plant production
UTAS Author:Harrison, MT (Associate Professor Matthew Harrison)
ID Code:149968
Year Published:In Press
Deposited By:TIA - Research Institute
Deposited On:2022-05-04
Last Modified:2022-08-30

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