Using Compost Instead of Nitrogen as Fertilizer in Canada Can Slow Global Warming

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A new study led by the University of Waterloo has found that greenhouse gas production is significantly lower when bio-based residues like compost replace nitrogen fertilizers widely used during spring freeze-thaw events in cold temperate regions. .

“In cold temperate regions like Canada, spring freeze-thaw events contribute significantly to the production of greenhouse gases, which further exacerbates climate change,” said study leader Emmanuel Badewa, PhD student at the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability (SERS) in Waterloo.

“The premise of our study is that bio-based residues, which are generated as a natural by-product of our lives and our economy, have the potential to reduce global warming through our highly variable spring freeze-thaw cycle in the Canada and temperate regions. world.”

The Waterloo and McGill University research team collected greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – over the spring as part of a pilot study at the research station in Elora, Ontario. The site was chosen because of its three transient spring freeze-thaw phases: waterlogged, wet and dry.

“Farmers in cold temperate regions who rely solely on nitrogen fertilizers for agricultural production have an incentive to adopt biobased residues from food waste, biosolids from sewage sludge, digestates from plant materials,” said Maren Oelbermann, co- author of Waterloo. “Furthermore, the value of bio-based residues is better than ever for farmers now that there are severe fertilizer shortages around the world.”

The study provides evidence that climate change mitigation can be achieved through carbon sequestration and soil improvement, with the ripple effect of job creation in the agricultural sector.

“As Canada takes steps towards a zero-waste future and aims to improve the circular bioeconomy, there is an opportunity to use recycled organic waste from landfills as a sustainable alternative for farmers to increase their produce,” Badewa said.

The study, The spring freeze-thaw stimulates greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural soils, written by Emmanuel Badewa of Waterloo, Maren Oelbermann and Fereidoun Rezanezhad with McGill University researchers Chun Yeung and Joann Whalen, was recently published in the journal Frontiers in Environmental Science.

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