Study assesses environmental impact of Ontario corn production

February 14, 2014

Researchers at the University of Guelph examined the energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with corn production in Ontario. Their findings are published today in the Agricultural Institute of Canada's (AIC) Canadian Journal of Soil Science.

The study reports estimated county-level energy and GHG intensity of grain corn, stover and cob production in Ontario from 2006-2011. According to the paper's authors, most of the energy used during corn production comes from the use of natural gas and electricity during grain drying; the production and application of nitrogen fertilizers (which are also associated with GHG emissions); and the use of diesel fuel during field work.

"Corn is a major economic crop in North America, and the developed from corn production are frequently used to mitigate the GHG emissions from fossil fuel use," explained Susantha Jayasundara, lead author of the paper.

"Assessing the GHG and energy intensity of corn production helps identify opportunities for efficiency and aids in improving the GHG mitigation potential of corn-derived renewable fuels," continued Jayasundara. The authors note that reducing GHG intensity and improving energy efficiency during can be achieved through the use of field-drying corn hybrids, reduced tillage and diminished nitrogen inputs.

The article, "Energy and Greenhouse Gas Intensity of Corn (Zea Mays L.) in Ontario: A regional assessment," by Susantha Jayasundara, Claudia Wagner-Riddle, Goretty Dias and Kumudinie Kariyapperuma, is available Open Access in the Canadian Journal of Soil Science.

"Given the environmental and economic benefits of renewable fuels and the proliferation of their use in Canada, it is important to more fully understand the environmental impacts of their associated agricultural production," added Serge Buy, CEO of AIC. "Essential studies such as this are of national significance and are certainly evidence of the need for targeted federal investments in agricultural science."

Explore further: Managing carbon loss

More information: DOI: 10.4141/CJSS2013-044

Related Stories

Managing carbon loss

December 3, 2008

As the United States continues to develop alternative energy methods and push towards energy independence, cellulosic-based ethanol has emerged as one of the most commercially viable technologies. Corn stover remains the ...

US greenhouse gas emissions and capture, regionally

August 12, 2010

A new report, Agriculture's Role in Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Capture, commissioned by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America, examines the evidence for greenhouse ...

Tequila plant could fuel vehicles and help reduce emissions

July 29, 2011

In an article published today in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, plant physiologist Dr Daniel Tan and his University of Oxford collaborators have analysed the potential to produce bioethanol (biofuel) from the ...

Recommended for you

A cataclysmic event of a certain age

July 27, 2015

At the end of the Pleistocene period, approximately 12,800 years ago—give or take a few centuries—a cosmic impact triggered an abrupt cooling episode that earth scientists refer to as the Younger Dryas.

'Carbon sink' detected underneath world's deserts

July 28, 2015

The world's deserts may be storing some of the climate-changing carbon dioxide emitted by human activities, a new study suggests. Massive aquifers underneath deserts could hold more carbon than all the plants on land, according ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.