Climate Change

Climate Change and agriculture are strongly interconnected. Farming activities directly depend on climatic conditions; therefore agriculture is highly exposed to effects of climate change like changing rainfall patterns, rising temperatures, increased weather variability and extreme events like heatwaves, droughts, storms and floods.

Agriculture is not only impacted by climate change, but also responsible for 17% of total greenhouse gas emissions, with major contributors being field emissions of methane (CH4) from the use of animal draft, animal husbandry or rice cultivation, carbon dioxide (CO2) from tractor usage and soil tillage, as well as nitrous oxide (N2O) from nitrogen fertilizers. At the same time, agriculture can also mitigate the pressure on our global climate by reducing emissions and sequestering carbon, all while producing enough healthy and affordable food for the growing world population.

Agriculture can adapt in three major areas in order to tackle the effects of climate change and contribute to both reducing climate change impacts and the damage of those impacts.

  • improving resilience of agriculture and crop production against negative impacts from climate change
  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions from farming activities
  • increasing productivity in farming to reduce pressure to convert natural land to farmland

We support farmers worldwide to address the challenges they will face due to the expected changes in farming conditions, one way is measuring the carbon footprint of their farming operation with AgBalance.

Climate Change in AgBalance

When calculating the contribution of agriculture to climate change, three main greenhouse gases play a major role: Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4) and Nitrous Oxide (N2O). These greenhouse gases are combined into one unit, the CO2 eq. according to their global warming potential. In a timeframe of 100 years 1t of CH4 is considered to be equivalent to 34 t or 36,8t of CO2 depending on the source (biotic or non-biotic) and 1t of N2O equivalent to 298t of CO2.

In AgBalance®, the assessment of climate change is performed with the baseline model adjusted for the 100-year global warming potential (GWP), as defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Myhre, et al., 2013)1.

The EU Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) recommends biogenic carbon assimilations and emissions to be considered only if they are stored for more than 100 years (European Commission, 2017)2. As common agricultural products rarely store carbon longer than 100 years, the biogenic CO2 storage in the crop is, by default, not accounted in AgBalance calculations. If relevant for the goal and scope of the study, it is possible to account for the biogenic CO2 storage in the crop.

In AgBalance different sources of greenhouse gases are included to calculate the contribution to Climate Change:

Environmental Impact Assessment

Technical documentation

1 Myhre, G., Shindell, D., Bréon, F.-M., Collins, W., Fuglestvedt, J., Huan, J., . . . Zhang, H. (2013). Chapter 8: Anthropogenic and Natural Radiative Forcing. In T. Stocker, D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S. K. Allen, J. Boschung, . . . P. Midgley, Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (pp. 659-740). Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.

2 European Commission. (2017). Guidance for the development of Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCRs), version 6.3.