Ok so let’s talk about nitrous oxide commonly known as laughing gas, we all know that nitrous oxide makes for a relatively nasty gas when it comes to global warming and that it also makes hotted up cars from the fast and furious movies go faster, but how does it relate to our farming systems?


Image sourced from yahoo.com

As dry land farmers in NSW our interests in nitrous oxide emissions are twofold.

Firstly we understand that the nitrous oxide emissions being produced by agriculture are speeding up the effects of global warming. This is expected since N2O contributes to global warming 298 times more than the ever so popular CO2. So with this fun fact in the back of farmer’s minds I would agree that it would bear a great deal of weight when it comes to making decisions on farm.

Secondly farmers are aware of the importance of nitrogen when it comes to crop growth and above all the extensive cost of nitrogen in farming systems. So I think I speak for all farmers when I say that we are looking to conserve as much nitrogen within our soils as we can.

With these two interests in mind the Australian Government initiated a 12 million dollar collaborative research project to reduce agricultural emissions. The action on the ground project is funded by DAFF who are working in collaboration with the GRDC and the Australian Government to reduce the nitrous oxide emissions on farm.

Nitrous Oxide Facts

  • The pain relief benefits of nitrous oxide was discovered in the 1800,s although it wasnt commercially used for pain relief until 1844 a whopping 44 years later.
  • When you heat nitrous oxide to 300 degrees celcius the oxygen splits from the nitrogen atom. This process allows for a lot more oxygen to be used for the combustion reaction in engines.
  • We commonly hear of denitrification taking place in our soils but oddly enough this process is also taking place in the mariana trench.

The microbes that break down organic carbon on farm can be quite persistant but to also live in small colonies in the deepest ocean on earth thats just rediculous.