Crops might end up increasing level of CO2 in the atmosphere

The last five decades have witnessed significant changes occurring in the world of agriculture. During this phase, we have come to know about ways of creating more crops and producing more efficiently; studies conducted by agricultural scientists come up with fresh and more effective methods that have made life much easier for farmers.

However, there are also some agriculture-based studies that issue warning; for instance, a recently conducted study has revealed that crops might change our atmosphere in the future.


The said study was published in the interdisciplinary scientific journal Nature. It suggests that soybean, wheat, rice and corn are strongly responsible for the climate change.

During the study, scientists came to know that crops need CO2 (carbon dioxide), both to prepare their food and for respiration, but they fail to burn the element up before dying; in other words, CO2 remains stored in the crops’ body till their death. This results in re-release of CO2 into the soil when the crops die, which means that the element eventually reenters the atmosphere.

Mark Friedl, the lead author of the study, said that the findings of the study successfully establish the fact that return of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere through dead crops such as corn makes soil more fertile and suitable for subsequent crop growths. However, due to this cycle, CO2 is released in increased amount into the atmosphere.

Tom Torgersen, the director of the Water Sustainability & Climate Program of The National Science Foundation, said that the fact that ecosystems have become more productive in extracting more atmospheric CO2 is great news for agriculture. However, according to Torgersen, this increased agricultural productivity in turn increases water supply requirements, which demands further investigation.

Thus, crop scientists are concentrating on gathering information on the effects of improved agriculture on water supplies.