Could Mulch Reduce Greenhouse Gases?


Agriculture around the world often has
to apply water for irrigation in order to have crops grow and what are quite
often quite warm climates. Nitrogen is an essential nutrients for
plants so farmers are often adding fertilizer to plants to get the greatest
productivity. In both of those, there are opportunities for greenhouse gases to be
created particularly nitrous oxide. We were studying how farmers can optimize
the use of water and the use of nitrogen while avoiding creating more greenhouse
gases or in fact reducing the greenhouse gas footprint. Our research
was conducted at two different experimental sites one was on an apple orchard and
one was on grape vineyard. In both of those experiments we were able to test
out by having part of the orchard with bare soil underneath the trees which is
often what’s done in current practice and some of the trees with mulch
underneath that and in this case it was a mixture of
wood chip and park mulch that was applied to the ground surface. The
research covered a lot of ground and how to irrigate, how of fertilized and the
question of mulch and I think we’re pretty happy that the mulch is something
we can recommend. Our study was primarily an agricultural setting and farmers are
managing the nitrogen in their water to produce a good crop. I think for the homeowner as well there
is an element of managing how much nitrogen you are applying to your plants
or lawns at home and making sure you’re not applying excess nitrogen. From what
we found by all means if you have a available source of mulch like leaves or
wood chips putting that on your flower beds for the wintertime might help cut
out some of that emissions in the springtime when the ground comes in thaws out.

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