From soilto life
News

Agricultural emissions 'reality check'

Agricultural emissions 'reality check'

A new report says that global agricultural emissions must be slashed to prevent the planet warming by more than 2C over the next century. The current focus is on reducing emissions from transport and energy. But an international team of scientists argues that if farm-related emissions aren't tackled then the Paris climate targets will be breached.

An estimated one-third of our greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture. The report by researchers from the universities of Vermont and Sheffield and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change examines non-CO2 emissions, such as methane and nitrous oxide. Cattle produce methane as part of their digestion and emit it mostly through belching. The addition of natural or synthetic fertilisers to soils releases large amounts of nitrous oxide. 

The researchers have calculated for the first time that these emissions must be reduced by one gigatonne per year in 2030. They estimate that the mitigation plans currently in place would only cut emissions by 21-40%. 

'Reality check'

Co-author Lini Wollenberg from the University of Vermont said: "This research is a reality check. Countries want to take action on agriculture, but the options currently on offer won't make the dent in emissions needed to meet the global targets agreed to in Paris. 

"We need a much bigger menu of technical and policy solutions, with major investment to bring them to scale." However, the authors warn that efforts to cut emissions levels must be balanced with the need to produce food.

"We need to help farmers play their part in reaching global climate goals while still feeding the world," says Prof Pete Smith from the University of Aberdeen and co-author of the paper. "Reducing emissions in agriculture without compromising food security is something we know how to do. A lot can already be done with existing best management practices in agriculture." "The tough part is how to reduce emissions by a further two to five times and support large numbers of farmers to change their practices in the next 10 to 20 years."

The mindset of Triferto

Fertilizer specialist Triferto looked at current agricultural methods that could help, such as ensuring the efficient use of fertilisers such as urea based nitrogen by reducing volatilization. Every soil contains the enzyme urease. As soon as urea is applied this enzyme breaks down urea into ammonium. During this conversion there is a local increase in the pH around the granule. If this pH level exceeds 7, part of the ammonium formed is converted into ammonia gas which evaporates, or in other words volatilises.

A urease inhibitor prevents this volatilisation. Novurea is urea that has been treated with a urease inhibitor (NBPT). More nitrogen is available for crop growth. The investment in nitrogen delivers the maximum benefit to the crop growth and limits the environmental impact too. 

A proven method that reduces nitrogen loss of the most common used fertilizer in the world. Novurea fits in this mindset, a more efficient and sustainable way of fertilizing.