YEN has set out plans to explore the impact crop management practices and yields have on greenhouse gas emissions through data collected by the network since 2013.
Dr Daniel Kindred, head of agronomics at ADAS, says they already have all the soil, crop, grain and agronomy information needed to calculate the greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity of a crop and have been able to run the calculations thanks to funding from the Morley Agricultural Foundation.
Dr Kindred says: “It is something we’ve always wanted to do. Applying these calculations to YEN data, we are seeing wide variations in GHG intensities, from below 200kg of CO2 equivalent per tonne, up to more than 500kg.
“That is a two-and-a-half-fold difference between the best performing crops and the worst.”
So far, the highest yielding crops tend to have the lowest GHG intensities and the lower yielding crops have the higher intensities, says Dr Kindred.
“That’s largely because we don’t see this strong relationship between nitrogen or other inputs being applied, and yield.
“High yields are achieved through good management, attention to detail and good soil management, not because the farmers are plastering huge applications of nitrogen and other inputs.”
The studies so far have also found many examples of where nitrogen and other inputs are high, but yields are low, he adds.
“However, we do still see a relationship where N is applied and it’s driving some variation in GHG intensities. Variation is also driven by cultivation and other inputs, so there is a lot of scope to be able to understand better what is going on there.”
ADAS plans to launch a YEN-Zero network to compare, understand and improve GHG intensities in the same way YEN focuses on yields.