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U.S. agriculture: Intensification has reduced impact on climate change
Vincelli explained that there are two ways to measure the impact of any agricultural commodity production on global warming. One way is to measure how much carbon is emitted into the atmosphere per acre. The other is per unit of agricultural production, such as per bushel of corn.
“In the last 50 years when measurements have been taken, it has been shown that the carbon footprint per unit of agricultural production has gone down substantially,” he said, attributing that to the dramatic yield increases producers have experienced over the past 100 years.
In the developing world, crop yields are often much lower, requiring the cultivation of more land, which Vincelli said can multiply the carbon footprint of food production by as much as three.
“Sure, there’s a carbon footprint to agricultural production, and we recognize that, and we want to make it better. Growers are always interested in improving their environmental impact as well as their bottom line,” he said, emphasizing that the ultimate goal is “sustainable intensification.”
“The intensification that we’ve experienced has actually, on a per unit of production basis, resulted in less of an impact on climate change,” he said. “That’s a really positive message, and I think growers should congratulate themselves for the wonderful work they’ve done.”
Source: University of Kentucky
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