Most of us assume that the largest portion of emissions and energy use comes from other industries than agriculture. Globally, agriculture is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that agriculture is directly responsible for 13.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions (Figure 1), with a further 17.4% coming from land use change (a staggering total of 30.9%). The two biggest sources of greenhouse gases from agriculture are the release of nitrous oxide from agricultural soils and methane from livestock and manures, each of which represents more than 5% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. While energy use in agriculture (for example, diesel for cultivation) is important, its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is much lower – less than 1.5% of total emissions. For conventional cereal crops, nitrogen fertilisers are the most important component of the carbon footprint (Figure 2). These emissions from fertiliser are split into two parts, with emissions from fertiliser manufacture and the emission of nitrous oxides from the soil of roughly equal importance (HGCA).
High-yielding crops are now constrained in many areas by restrictions
on nitrogen use introduced as part of the Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ)
legislation; future yield growth is, therefore, dependent on using nutrients
Crop Intellect’s research focuses on developing technologies to improve efficiency of nutritional uptake. This combines both the increased uptake by promoting growth and the reduction of inputs providing an increase in yield and a reduction in input’s costs. Maintaining a healthy soil biology and structure is vital to ensure optimal yield performance. A long term cultivation and rotation plan is required for maximising efficiency in production and Crop Intellect’s expertise in developing soil stability is available to the growers.
The figure below shows the portion of carbon footprint attributed to fertiliser production and fertiliser-induced field emissions. These contribute the most compared to other inputs. This is why our focus is on nutrient uptake efficiency. It is also important to understand that nutrition on its own is not able to increase yield more than what the crop can produce when not in a deficiency. This is where our technologies are brought in, combined with nutrition they promote a crop physiological change to increase the potential of the crop to produce effectively and efficiently, directly making a positive contribution in reducing the carbon footprint of agriculture.
References and Useful Links: http://archive.hgca.com/document.aspx?fn=load&media_id=8362&publicationId=9193