While the UN and other world governments are blaming industrial facilities and greenhouse gas emissions as contributing to climate change, a new study has revealed that four crops, namely: corn, rice, wheat, and soybean are also playing their parts in the whole climate change game.
Scientists found that it is true that crops require carbon dioxide for respiration and to manufacture their food, but they do not burn up this element before their deaths; they store it. Carbon dioxide is therefore re-released into the soil when these crops die, and this ultimately makes carbon dioxide to find its way back into the environment.
According to Mark Friedl of the University of Boston, “It’s a remarkable story of what we’ve done in agriculture in general. And particular in corn, which is one crop that’s just exploded. Over the last 50 years, the area of croplands in the Northern Hemisphere has been relatively stable, but production has intensified enormously. The fact that this land area can affect the composition of the atmosphere is an amazing fingerprint of human activity on the planet.”
Friedl’s research establishes one fact: the return of CO2 via dead crops like corn to the earth enriches the soil and makes it more fertile and efficient for further crop growths. The soil yields more crops per acre, even though more carbon dioxide gas is still released during winter via the soil to the earth.
“Something is changing about this cycle. Ecosystems are becoming more productive, pulling in more atmospheric carbon during the summer and releasing more during the dormant period,” Friedl adds.
The National Science Foundation’s Water Sustainability and Climate Program’s director, Tom Torgersen, notes that “these indications of increased productivity speak well for agriculture. But such enhanced agricultural productivity makes significant demands on water supplies, which will require further investigation.”
While crop scientists continue to research the effects of enhanced agriculture on natural water supplies, researchers found that corn, rice, wheat, and soybean constitute 64% of all calories consumed around the world. And that, is something of interest.