A team of scientists in New Mexico published an article showing that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were reduced when croplands included grass buffer strips alternating with cultivated corn strips. An Aeris Technologies’ MIRA Pico CO/N2O portable analyzer was used to measure carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrous oxide (N2O) in the experiments. The results demonstrated that carbon dioxide (CO2) and N2O emissions decreased from corn strips in addition to the perennial grass strips.

Grass Buffer Strips Improve Soil Health and Mitigate Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Center-Pivot Irrigated Cropping Systems

Sk. Musfiq-Us- Salehin, Rajan Ghimire, Sangamesh V. Angadi, and Omololu J. Idowu, Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 6014

Link to article: https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/12/15/6014 

Abstract:  Declining water resources and soil degradation have significantly affected agricultural sustainability across the world. In the southern High Plains of USA, buffer strips of perennial grasses alternating with cultivated corn strips were introduced in center-pivot irrigated crop fields to increase agronomic production and ecosystem services. A study was conducted to evaluate soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) dynamics, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and soil health benefits of integrating circular grass buffer strips in the center-pivot irrigated corn production system. Multiple parameters were assessed in the grass buffer strips, and at distances of 1.52, 4.57, and 9.14 m away from the edges of grass strips in corn strips. While grasses in the buffer strips depleted N compared to corn strips, potential C mineralization (PCM) was 52.5% to 99.9% more in grass strips than in corn strips. Soil microbial biomass C (MBC) content was 36.7% to 52.5% greater in grass strips than in corn strips. Grass buffer also reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from corn strips. Grass buffer strips can improve soil health and sustainability in center-pivot irrigated cropping systems by increasing soil C components and reducing GHG emissions.

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