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Fluid Journal : Fluid Journal 1996-1998
1 Fluid Journal Spring 1998 Summary: Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere appears to be increasing. Carbon dioxide is considered to be one of the greenhouse gases that causes global warming. Total U.S. emissions from fossil fuels is about 5,300 million metric tons (mint). The administration wants to reduce emissions. It is a plan that could negatively affect our economy. Agriculture already assimilates tremendous quantities of CO2, so an alternative option to emissions might be to increase sequestration of CO2 by U.S. agriculture. To accomplish this, ag researchers should initiate more high-yield projects. Carbon sequestration would be increased to help mitigate fossilfuel emissions. More fbod would be produced, soil fertility enriched, and ag profits improved. In the mid 1950s I heard of a farmer who supposedly had a 100-hu/A corn field. Unbelievable, I thought. After all, the average U.S. yield in those days was 55 hu/A. When I pulled into his field, sure enough, stalks standing straight, plants a little over a foot apart in 40-inch rows, and a stand of probably 10,000 plants per acre. The soil was clear of weeds but hard---not a lot of corn leaves on the ground. Fast-forwarding 30 years ahead I was standing in the field of another farmer I'd heard about: Herman Warsaw. I was Bill Lohry One Answer To Global Warning: High-yield Agriculture Increased crop yields could sequester more CO2 to help mitigate emissions of fossil fuels while also supplying a hungry world with more food. Table 1. Photosynthesis equation. 6CO2 + 12H2O + Light + Chlorophyll--->C6H12O6 + 602 + 6H2O Actual example with a 9.2-billion bushel crop: 815 mmt CO2 + water + light + chlorophyll--->555 mmt + 592 mmt O2 (carbo- (released hydrate) in air) Table 2. Facts about global carbon (as CO2). Multilication factors approximate. To convert tons of carbon to tons of CO2 multiply by 3.67 To convert tons of CO2 to tons of carbon multiply by .272 Amount of carbon (as CO2) in CO2 (million metric tons) various reservoirs Atmosphere CO2 3,360,000 Biomass carbon (as CO2) 1,760,000* Fresh water 918,000* Oceans, organic detritus, & soil organic matter 7,300,000 to 14,600,000** *Bolin (1977) ** CAST (1992) Growing Corn Crop At Harvest Adequate Nutrients and Water Total CO Assimilated from Atmosphere...815 Million Metric Tons 2 815 Million Metric Tons (MMT) CO2 Sunshine Energy Crop Release 592 MMT Oxygen O2 Grain contains 326 Million Metric Tons (MMT) of CO to be fed to animals, humans and poultry 2 •Surface residue contains 326 MMT of CO •Roots contain 163 MMT CO 2 2 (Surface residue and roots turn into organic matter) Figure 1. Anatomy of a 9.2 billion bushel corn crop.
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