Institute of

Climate-Smart Agriculture

International Workshop: Greenhouse Gas Emission from Oilseed Rape Cropping and Mitigation Options

4th and 5th of March, 2015 in Braunschweig

In recent years there has been much political discussion in Europe regarding the advantages and disadvantages of biofuels, which cumulated in the EU Renewables Directive and its requirement for 50 % greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation compared to fossil fuels starting from 2017. As a consequence, research on field emissions (in particular nitrous oxide) from oilseed rape cropping and life cycle assessment of rapeseed biodiesel has gained additional importance.

In order to foster international scientific exchange regarding research on the GHG balance of rapeseed, the Thünen Institute hosted a workshop on 4th and 5th March 2015 in Braunschweig, Germany. The workshop was organized as part of the joint research project “Mitigation of greenhouse gas emission from rapeseed cultivation with special emphasis on nitrogen fertilization”, which is funded by the Agency for Renewable Resources (FNR) due to a decision of the German Federal Parliament with funds of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and receives financial support from the Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Plants (UFOP).

Experts and researchers from Canada, Denmark, France, Poland, Sweden, The United Kingdom, and Germany met at the Thünen Institute and discussed the following topics:

  • New results on N2O emissions from oilseed rape cropping (measurements and modeling)
  • Management options to increase productivity of nitrogen fertilization in rotations with oilseed rape and to reduce N2O emission and nitrate leaching
  • Influence of oilseed rape cropping on soil organic carbon stocks
Field experiment with oilseed rape – wheat – barley crop rotation near Kiel, Germany.
Field experiment with oilseed rape – wheat – barley crop rotation near Kiel, Germany. (© Universität Kiel/Thomas Räbiger)

Although presented results from recent and ongoing field studies confirm the clear dependence of direct N2O field emissions on fertilization intensity, they indicate that these emissions might be slightly lower than expected. However, since mineral fertilizers carry a strong GHG burden from their production, N use efficiency was identified as a key factor for improving the product related GHG balance of oilseed rape, which it achieves by minimizing field emissions and maximizing crop yield. Furthermore, N fertilizers with low GHG emissions during production should be used in order to reach the 50 % mitigation goal. Results are inconclusive regarding the effect of oilseed rape cropping on soil organic carbon pools, but at least there don’t seem to be strongly negative effects.

Comparing presented regional GHG balances of oilseed rape production in different European countries highlights a strong impact of methodology on the results. Further efforts are needed to improve consistency.

Talks presented

Dethroning a king: Canola’s rise to supremancy and what it could mean to the atmosphere
Reynald Lemke, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
[Download PDF]

Overview of nitrous oxide measurements from oilseed rape in the UK
Ute Skiba, Centre of Ecology and Hydrology, UK
[Download PDF]

Measurement and modelling of N2O emissions from oilseed rape: an overview of 20 years of research in France
Benoît Gabrielle, AgroParisTech, France
[Download PDF]

Quantification of soil N2O emissions from biofuel feedstock cultivation – the Global Nitrous Oxide Calculator (GNOC)
Renate Koeble, Consultant to EU Joint Research Centre
[Download PDF]

Direct nitrous oxide emissions from oilseed rape cropping – a meta-analysis
Katja Walter, Thünen Institute, Germany
[Download PDF]

Evaluation of GHG-Emissions from Winter-Oilseed-Rape cropping systems: Why is it challenging to include preceding crop effects?
Ingo Pahlmann, Kiel University, Germany

GHG balancing crop-by-crop vs. crop rotation cycles – how figures can differ
Horst Fehrenbach, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IFEU), Germany
[Download PDF]

Greenhouse gas emission from oilseed rape in France:  from field measurements to Life Cycle Analysis
Cécile Le Gall, CETIOM, France

Target values for rapeseed in German fertilizer recommendations
Bernhard Osterburg, Thünen Institute, Germany
[Download PDF]

GHG emissions from rapeseed cultivation in Poland
Magdalena Borzęcka-Walker, Institute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation, Poland
[Download PDF]

Oilseed rape cropping practice and its impact on GHG emissions in Danish and German NUTS2 regions
Lars Elsgaard, Aarhus University, Denmark
[Download PDF]
Dörte Riemer, State Research Institute for Agriculture and Fisheries Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany

Yield-scaled N2O emissions from oilseed rape bioenergy crop rotations in Germany
Sarah Köbke, Göttingen University, Germany

Organic fertilization as a mitigation option: ammonia and nitrous oxide emissions
Thomas Räbiger, Kiel University, Germany
[Download PDF]

Direct and post-harvest N2O emissions during cultivation of oilseed rape in southern Germany
Beat Vinzent, Technical University of Munich, Germany

Nitrate leaching and optimal N fertilization in oilseed rape
Lena Engström, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden
[Download PDF]

Tillage methods influence greenhouse gas emissions and soil C/N stock changes in winter oilseed rape cultivation
Jürgen Augustin, Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Germany
[Download PDF]

Carbon, Nitrogen and Starch dynamics in four different oilseed rape genoytpes
Ruth Lamparter, Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Germany

Impact of rapeseed cropping on the soil carbon balance
Antje Moffat, Thünen Institute, Germany

Canola cropping and carbon and nitrogen cycling on the Canadian prairies
Reynald Lemke, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
[Download PDF]