Intensive agriculture a major cause of global warming: study

Expanding agricultural production has a remarkable role to play in long-run climate change as it increases carbon dioxide swings, according to a new study.

The study was conducted jointly by researchers from Boston University, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and McGill University.

It shows that between 1961 and 2008, production of crops has increased by 240 per cent in the Northern Hemisphere. This rise has resulted in an increase of a billion metric tons of Co2 that is captured and released in the atmosphere each year.

This crop generation has increased primarily in the last 50 years because of plant propagation and developments in fertilizer and watering systems.

Mark Friedl from Boston University, the lead author of the study, said, "Over the last 50 years, the area of croplands in the Northern Hemisphere has been relatively stable, but production has intensified enormously. The fact that this land area can affect the composition of the atmosphere is an amazing fingerprint of human activity on the planet."

Friedl explained that for this study, the researchers closely observed how the CO2 concentrations have increased in the Northern Hemisphere during summer season every year. He pointed out that plants take in carbon dioxide to turn sunlight into food, which is primarily responsible for the rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Researchers have further found that among all crops, corn assumes the greatest part in increasing worldwide temperatures, followed by wheat, rice, and soya beans. The researchers said that all these crops assimilate and discharge a billion metric huge amounts of CO2 yearly.

Another research has projected that 2014 will be the hottest year in recorded history.