Quantification and mitigation of GHG emissions from high-value agricultural production systems in British Columbia

In 2017, our project team, in collaboration with a number of other partners, received federal funds for a 5-year research project directed towards increasing fertilizer use efficiency by accurately measuring GHG emissions and developing mitigation technologies, thereby developing beneficial management practices (BMPs) for blueberry, potato, and forage crops in the Lower Fraser Valley (LFV).  The aim of these BMPs would be to improve the overall sustainability of crop production primarily by increasing nutrient use efficiency and improving soil quality.

There are multiple production-related beneficial outcomes of these objectives including reduced costs of fertilizer applications, reduced water use, and increased resiliency to weather volatility related to climate change. There are also a number of environmentally related beneficial outcomes including reduced GHG emissions, lower risk of nitrate contamination of water resources and increased carbon (C) sequestration.

We will use eddy-covariance systems in several fields in the LFV. These systems are capable of continuously (half-hourly) measuring GHG fluxes, water use and net ecosystem production of the entire crop field. By using manual and automated flux chambers, we will be able to compare these fluxes in different management practices using small-area treated plots. The data sets obtained by these measurements along with field observations will be used to parameterize and validate an ecosystem process model, which will be used to provide guidance on BMPs for these crops grown in different soils and management practices in the LFV.

Project Team:

  • Andy Black (Professor)
  • Sean Smukler (Assistant Professor)
  • Maja Krzic (Associate Professor)
  • Paul Jassal (Research Associate)
  • Katie Neufeld (Research Assistant)
  • Zoran Nesic (Research Engineer)
  • Patrick Pow (MSc student)
  • Spencer Evans (PhD student)

Project Partners:

  • Shabtai Bittman (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)
  • Derek Hunt (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)
  • Drew Bondar (Delta Farmland and Wildlife Trust
  • Dieter Geesling (British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture)
  • Leisa Yee (The Delta Farmer’s Institute)

Research activities:

  • Measuring C sequestration and GHG emissions in farmer’s fields
  • Monitoring crop yield and fertilizer use efficiency under different management practices
  • Model BMPs for different soil type and climate scenarios in the LFV


  • Annual estimates of GHG budgets of major crop production systems in the LFV
  • BMPs to minimize GHG emissions, and maximize crop production at lower rates of N fertilization
  • Strategies to improve the resiliency of agricultural production systems to changing climate.

An eddy-covariance system using a Gill Instruments three-dimensional sonic anemometer, a LI-COR LI-7000 infrared CO2-H2O analyzer, and a Los Gatos Research N2O-CH4 laser absorption analyzer installed in a blueberry field on Westham Island, Delta, BC.


Manual chamber used to measure soil greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes


Measurement of soil greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes in a blueberry field using a Gasmet analyzer


Portable Gasmet analyzer used for field measurements of soil GHG fluxes


An automatic chamber system used for soil greenhouse gas (GHG) flux measurements in the field