Carbon uptake by European agricultural land is variable, and in many regions could be increased: Evidence from remote sensing, yield statistics and models of potential productivity

Mathias Neumann, Pete Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Agricultural plants, covering large parts of the global land surface and important for the livelihoods of people worldwide, fix carbon dioxide seasonally via photosynthesis. The carbon allocation of crops, however, remains relatively understudied compared to, for example, forests. For comprehensive consistent resource assessments or climate change impact studies large-scale reliable vegetation information is needed. Here, we demonstrate how robust data on carbon uptake in croplands can be obtained by combining multiple sources to enhance the reliability of estimates. Using yield statistics, a remote-sensing based productivity algorithm and climate-sensitive potential productivity, we mapped the potential to increase crop productivity and compared consistent carbon uptake information of agricultural land with forests. The productivity gap in Europe is higher in Eastern and Southern than in Central-Western countries. At continental scale, European agriculture shows a greater carbon uptake in harvestable compartments than forests (agriculture 1.96 vs. forests 1.76 t C ha-1 year-1). Mapping productivity gaps allows efforts to enhance crop production to be prioritized by, for example, improved crop cultivars, nutrient management or pest control. The concepts and methods for quantifying carbon uptake used in this study are applicable worldwide and allow forests and agriculture to be included in future carbon uptake assessments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)902-911
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume643
Early online date28 Jun 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

Keywords

  • crops
  • biomass
  • bioeconomy
  • yield gap
  • harvest
  • EUROSTAT
  • Net Primary Production
  • carbon sequestration

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