Institute of

Climate-Smart Agriculture

Climate relevance of production systems

Climate change mitigation requires systemic approaches and solutions

Greenhouse gas measurement in wet peat grassland in Freisinger Moos show: extensive land-use functions on soil with climate-friendly, high groundwater table.
Greenhouse gas measurement in wet peat grassland in Freisinger Moos show: extensive land-use functions on soil with climate-friendly, high groundwater table. (© Thünen-Institut/Annette Freibauer)

How do agricultural production systems differ in view of climate change mitigation? As in general multiple greenhouse gases are simultaneously released, which all need to be considered, narrow-focused studies can be delusive. In contrast, the whole production chain needs to be assessed and optimized for effective and real climate change mitigation. Furthermore indirect effects need to be considered triggered by differences in the use of production supplies, e.g. the purchase of mineral fertilizer or the consumption of fossil energy.

We integrate the results of our own and of external studies to systemic assessments of climate relevance. We include synergies and trade-offs on the production process, yields and other environmental targets such as water and soil protection.

Our research acitivities focus on

  • farm-level nitrogen management,
  • the assessment of greenhouse gases from agricultural peatland use as affected by soil and climate conditions,
  • the assessment of renewable raw material production for mitigating climate change,
  • the effectiveness of agricultural or environmental policy measures with regard to climate change mitigation and air pollution control.

We focus on open questions regarding the valuation of contrary effects of greenhouse gas mitigation measures on emissions. Will the rewetting of peatlands cause significant methane emissions? Will measures aimed at reducing NH3 emissions or at carbon sequestration in agricultural soils trigger increased N2O emissions?