Project Innovation + Advantages:
The agricultural production of crops, the primary source of nitrous oxide (N2O), contributes approximately 4% of all greenhouse gases from the U.S. annually. Quantifying these emissions, which are non-uniform in space and time, is a significant challenge at the field and farm scales. Princeton University’s NitroNet is an autonomous sensing system designed to monitor N2O emissions over an entire growing season at high spatial and temporal resolutions. By casting a virtual “net” over an entire field, NitroNet will monitor the non-uniform N2O emissions within the field using atmospheric laser imaging. The total nitrogen loss over a growing season through N2O emissions will be quantified to inform practices that minimize the climate change impacts and environmental harms of agricultural crop production. A first of its kind system, NitroNet uses eye-safe laser beams, low-cost reflectors, and highly sensitive detectors around the perimeter of a field to measure N2O concentrations at a 1-acre resolution without impacting regular agricultural activities, such as tillage, planting, fertilization, and harvest. This continuous, laser-based monitoring will be validated using a small unmanned aerial system and compared with conventional approaches.
Reducing the uncertainty of emissions quantification is critical to realizing the revenue potential of carbon management markets.