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Abstract

The economic efficiency of cropping options to mitigate GHG emissions with agriculture in Eastern Canada was analyzed. Data on yield response to tillage (moldboard plow and chisel plow) and six corn based rotations were obtained from a 20-year field experiment in Ontario. Budgets were constructed for each cropping system while GHG emissions were measured for soil carbon and were estimated for nitrous oxide according to IPCC methodology. Complex crop rotations with legumes, such as corn-corn-soybeans-wheat with red clover underseeded, have higher net returns and substantially (more than 1 Mg ha-1 year-1) lower GHG emissions than continuous corn. Reduced tillage reduces GHG emissions due to lower input use but no sequestration effect could be found in the soil from tillage. Rotation had a much bigger effect on the mitigation potential of GHG emissions than tillage. However, opportunity costs of more than $200 per Mg CO2 eq ha-1 year-1 indicate the limits to increase the mitigation potential beyond the level of the economic best cropping system.

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