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Using hedgerow biodiversity to enhance the carbon storage of farmland in the Fraser River delta of British Columbia

Journal of Soil and Water Conservation

Abstract

Planting hedgerows on farm field edges can help mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agricultural landscapes by sequestering carbon (C) in woody biomass and in soil. Sequestration rates however, must be assessed in terms of their overall global warming potential (GWP) which must also consider GHG emissions. The objectives of this study were to (1) compare carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from two types of hedgerows and adjacent annual agricultural production fields, and 2) better understand how climate, soil properties and plant species configurations affect hedgerow GHG emissions. At eight study sites in the lower Fraser River delta of British Columbia, we measured emissions from soil in both planted (P-Hedgerow) and remnant hedgerows (R-Hedgerow), as well as in adjacent annual crop production fields over 1 year using a closed-static chamber method. CO2 emissions were 59 % higher in P-Hedgerow than R-Hedgerow, yet there were no significant differences of relative emissions of CH4 and N2O. The environmental variables that explained the variation in emissions differed for the three GHGs. CO2 emissions were significantly correlated with soil temperature. CH4 and N2O and emissions were marginally significantly correlated with soil organic carbon (SOC) and soil water-filled pore space (WFPS), respectively. Emissions were not significantly correlated with hedgerow plant species diversity. While hedgerows sequester carbon in their woody biomass, we demonstrated that it is critical to measure hedgerow emissions to accurately ascertain their overall GHG mitigation potential. Our results show that there are no CO(2)e emission differences between the management options that plant new diverse hedgerows or conserve existing hedgerows.

Author(s): Thiel, B; Smukler, SM; Krzic, M; Gergel, S; Terpsma, C

Journal: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation

Year: 2017

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