Grasslands & Agricultural Lands

Grasslands cover as much as one-third of the world’s lands, and grazing is the most extensive land use on the planet. Grasslands store fairly high levels of carbon in their soils, but a significant fraction is being lost through conversion to cropland or overgrazing. Livestock are also responsible for the majority of all non-COemissions from land use.

About 10% of the earth’s land area is intensively cultivated to produce crops. Most agricultural soils have lost a large fraction of their original soil carbon, and there is considerable potential to restore this through better management. More efficient use of fertilizers can also have a large impact on global emissions of nitrous oxide, another of the six principal greenhouse gases.

In the grasslands biome, the researchers identified cropland nutrient management as offering the greatest cost-effective emissions reductions, through reduced use of fertilizers and sprays that release nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than CO2, into the atmosphere. This would require reduction in the use of fertilizers and sprays employed by farmers worldwide, contributing a reduction of 635 million tons of carbon emissions equivalent a year by 2030, like taking 134 million cars off the road.

grasslands-agricultural-lands-natural-climate-solutions-the-nature-conservancyThe next agriculture revolution will require solutions that not only increase food production, but also sustain the health of our communities, our land and our climate.

Grasslands & Agricultural Lands pathways—at a glance

GLAL-Graph

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Avoided grassland conversion

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Biochar

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Conservation agriculture

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Cropland nutrient management

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Grazing – animal management

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Grazing – feed

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Grazing – legumes

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Grazing – optimal intensity

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Improved rice cultivation

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Trees in cropland

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Forests

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Grasslands & Agricultural Lands

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Wetlands

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