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Researchers arming farms to halt increases in greenhouse gases

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. New farm practices and new breeds of crops might someday add to mankind's toolbox for controlling greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change.

Research under way at Purdue University seeks to control the most prominent of these greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, by corralling carbon on the farm in a process known as carbon sequestration.

The research is being supported with a grant of nearly $1 million to Purdue from the Consortium for Agricultural Soil Mitigation of Greenhouse Gases (CASMGS, pronounced "chasms"), a nine-university consortium of which Purdue is a member. Kansas State University is administering the $15 million program.

According to CASMGS, as much as 20 percent of the projected carbon emission reduction called for by the Kyoto Protocol could be accomplished by using U.S. farmland.

Ronald Turco, professor of agronomy and director of the CASMGS program at Purdue, said that such a decrease would be enough to offset the United States' annual contribution to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

"We're hoping that with enhanced agricultural production methods we can take that annual increase to zero just by trapping the plant residue carbon in soil," Turco said.

U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., was among those who worked to secure funding for the project.

"Purdue scientists have a long history of cutting-edge agricultural research," Lugar said. "Participating in a joint agricultural research venture to capture carbon from the atmosphere will help ensure that Indiana remains in the forefront of cutting-edge research. Purdue is to be commended for their participation in this ambitious project."

In addition to production practices to aid carbon retention, Turco said it will be possible to develop new crop plants that also help sequester carbon.

"Much of the carbon is held in the soil in what we call aggregate soil structures, and we'll be looking to fi
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Contact: Steve Tally
tally@purdue.edu
765-494-9809
Purdue University
2-Jul-2002


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