The ground-healing way to save the planet
The ground-healing way to save the planet and improve your bottom line through soil
The topic of ecological sustainability in agriculture and the food chain is very broad and complex with a lot of contributing factors. An extra layer of complexity comes from the variety of goods that are typically included in the product portfolio of food companies: vegetables, grains, dairy, coffee, cacao, palm oil…These crops impact Earth’s water, forests, soil, air, which are all interconnected, so when the health of one is disrupted it impacts the whole system. One of the most popular metrics of the ecological impact is carbon footprint which measures the release of carbon and other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide.
The relationship between greenhouse gases and the soil
Agriculture is a major contributor to global emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that drive climate change. Leadership and innovation from the sector are therefore vital in making progress in reducing these emissions and in abating the worst effects of climate change on agricultural production. Action in this area also makes good business sense. By addressing GHG emissions, companies and producers can identify opportunities to bolster their bottom line, reduce risk, and discover competitive advantages.
Action in this area also makes good business sense. By addressing GHG emissions, companies and producers can identify opportunities to bolster their bottom line, reduce risk, and discover competitive advantages.
The sustainability issue has the greatest complexity, where we are racing with time, and are not fast enough. For centuries we have been abusing the planet and have created an imbalance in the system. We have overused our soil. When we damage soil, we destroy the organic matter to which water and carbon are tied, we give off carbon, and it goes back to the atmosphere. However, it is beautiful to see that focus is shifting to understanding the ecosystem and how humanity can work together to make the planet a hospitable home again. Research shows how effective land restoration could play a major role in sequestering CO2 and slowing climate change. Plants, together with the soil microbiome can capture carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil. Consequently, field productivity rises when the soil is rich with carbon. Even when it is hard to have an optimistic view of the future of Earth, there is still faith. Faith that with new technologies, the “technologies” of Nature, and with understanding the complexity of the function of the ecosystem, we can restore its health. We need to work on putting the system back in balance!
Where to start from
In order to come closer to carbon neutrality companies should aim to minimize the negative impact and maximize the positive one by carbon capture practices. But first, we have to identify the hotspots and what are the areas of improvements where our actions will be most effective. This can be done by first comparing the relative quantity of all goods used in the company’s product portfolio, what is their high-level average emission factors, who are the greatest contributors and what are the farm management practices at these sources. Knowing the biggest contributors of greenhouse gases will help us find the most efficient solutions.
Mapping the problem is the first stage of understanding where the solution lies.
Without this knowledge, we will not know what to fix, nor what is the impact of the solution. In agriculture and food production in general, there are so many factors in the equation. Every crop needs a different treatment depending on variety, stage of lifecycle, soil type and geological factors, so there is not a one-size-fits-all treatment. Decisions need to be made based on data.
Regenerating the land
To this day have knowledge of proven restorative practices. We have the knowledge of the importance of applying the right amount of fertilizer and water. We are familiar with technologies that will help share and apply these best practices. Introducing these changes will bring better yield and restore the health of the soil. As the attention shifts to sustainable agriculture, and as new technologies are continuously developing, it is important to stay agile.
We see the trend of regenerative farming practices gaining popularity across the globe, with farmers restoring almost deserted land into the garden of Eden. This inspiring trend shows us that there is a hope to cool the earth and that there is a sustainable way to feed the growing population. However, we believe that radical improvement will come when the big companies will pay attention to what is under our feet and understand that it pays off to collaborate with Nature.
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