Globally, agriculture is directly responsible for 14% of annual greenhouse gas(GHG) emissions and induces an additional 17% through land use change, mostlyin developing countries (Vermeulen et al 2012). Agricultural intensification andexpansion in these regions is expected to catalyze the most significant relativeincreases in agricultural GHG emissions over the next decade (Smith et al 2008,Tilman et al 2011). Farms in the developing countries of sub-Saharan Africa andAsia are predominately managed by smallholders, with 80% of land holdingssmaller than ten hectares (FAO 2012). One can therefore posit that smallholderfarming significantly impacts the GHG balance of these regions today and willcontinue to do so in the near future.However, our understanding of the effect smallholder farming has on theEarth’s climate system is remarkably limited. Data quantifying existing andreduced GHG emissions and removals of smallholder production systems areavailable for only a handful of crops, livestock, and agroecosystems (Herrero et al2008, Verchot et al 2008, Palm et al 2010). For example, fewer than fifteenstudies of nitrous oxide emissions from soils have taken place in sub-SaharanAfrica, leaving the rate of emissions virtually undocumented. Due to a scarcity ofdata on GHG sources and sinks, most developing countries currently quantifyagricultural emissions and reductions using IPCC Tier 1 emissions factors.However, current Tier 1 emissions factors are either calibrated to data primarilyderived from developed countries, where agricultural production conditions aredissimilar to that in which the majority of smallholders operate, or from data thatare sparse or of mixed quality in developing countries (IPCC 2006). For the mostpart, there are insufficient emissions data characterizing smallholder agricultureto evaluate the level of accuracy or inaccuracy of current emissions estimates.Consequentially, there is no reliable information on the agricultural GHG budgetsfor developing economies. This dearth of information constrains the capacity totransition to low-carbon agricultural development, opportunities for smallholdersto capitalize on carbon markets, and the negotiating position of developingcountries in global climate policy discourse.Concerns over the poor state of information, in terms of data availability andrepresentation, have fueled appeals for new approaches to quantifying GHGemissions and removals from smallholder agriculture, for both existing conditionsand mitigation interventions (Berry and Ryan 2013, Olander et al 2013).Considering the dependence of quantification approaches on data and the currentdata deficit for smallholder systems, it is clear that in situ measurements must bea core part of initial and future strategies to improve GHG inventories and

Full Text
Published version (Free)

Talk to us

Join us for a 30 min session where you can share your feedback and ask us any queries you have

Schedule a call