Cleaner sugarcane fields

cana12By Yuri Vasconcellos
FAPESP – Direct emissions of greenhouse gases from sugarcane plantations are much lower than had been estimated in international scientific literature. This is the main finding of a field study conducted in sugarcane plantations by a group of scientists from different national universities and research centers. The focus of the field study, published in the Global Change Biology Bioenergy journal, was the emission of nitrous acid (N2O), considered the most hazardous greenhouse gas, nearly 300 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide (CO2). In addition, nitrous acid persists for a long time in the atmosphere. Nitrogen-based fertilizers used by farmers to spur the growth of sugarcane are the source of nitrous acid in sugarcane fields. The results of the field study are important because if nitrous acid emissions were to become too high, the environmental benefits of sugarcane ethanol would be questioned. Brazil is the world’s biggest sugarcane grower, with annual production of 596 million tons.

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Source and Photo: FAPESP, September 2012
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