Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Natural Resources

First Advisor

E. Carol Adair


As the ripple-effects of a changing climate shape our planet, understanding relationships between agriculture and climate change is critical. With agricultural practices shaping soils on over a third of the earth’s land surface, the soils and lands where food is produced are integral grounds for examining these relationships. While not all humans practice agriculture in similar or damaging ways, nevertheless, dominant agricultural practices are displacing beings and ecosystems and perturbing global nutrient cycles across the planet. These entwined imbalances of dominance and nutrients result in flows of excess nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon that are responsible for nearly three-fourths of the eutrophication of global waters and 12% of the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change. Yet, some agricultural practices can help mitigate these negative impacts while supporting food cultivation. This dissertation endeavors to contribute important understandings of agricultural practices and their effects on soil and nutrient flows in three ways. First, an assessment of scientific evidence for climate change adaptation and mitigation reveals a potentially worrying lack of robust evidence for synergies between the two objectives, along with a narrow focus on productivist outcomes. Second, a three-year field experiment measuring nutrient flows from dominant agricultural systems in the Northeastern United States reveals the complication that some soil practices implemented for reducing nutrient runoff emit more greenhouse gases. Third, the use of emerging technologies reveals new ways to both monitor difficult-to-measure greenhouses gases and to consider the roles of technology in mediating nutrient flows. Agricultural practices shape logics that in turn shape technologies and practices, and thus these examinations together deepen understandings of agricultural relationships that are particularly important for climate change mitigation.



Number of Pages

123 p.