Technology that will help make the food system carbon neutral

Toronto: Globally, about a third of all greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture and food systems. The carbon footprint of food systems includes all emissions from its cultivation, processing, transportation and waste. Agriculture is also vulnerable to the effects of climate change and, as the conflict in Ukraine shows, food systems can be exposed to geopolitics. Several technologies are already available that can help decarbonize the complex systems that connect producers and consumers. These technologies can also make our food systems much more resilient to global threats.

Here are three that we think have huge potential. 1. Carbon Farms and Regenerative Agriculture Today, most of the greenhouse gas emissions related to our food come from food production and are emitted when the soil is tilled. This is important because undisturbed soils store carbon. But with some relatively minor management changes, soils can once again become carbon sinks. For example, planting pulses and forage crops every few years, rather than just growing crops like wheat or corn, or planting a cover crop in the fall when fields would otherwise be bare, allows organic matter to build up and helps the soil absorb carbon. Not only does this help slow down climate change, but it also protects soils from erosion. The idea that farmers can just use more crop types might not sound technologically sophisticated, but it works. And a new generation of smart farming tools, which includes farming equipment using big data and artificial intelligence, will soon help farmers adopt these practices that produce food and sequester carbon. These smart farming tools are part of a larger digital farming revolution, also known as precision farming, which will allow farmers to reduce their impact on the environment and track the amount of greenhouse gases they produce. their fields capture, creating a carbon registry that documents their efforts.

2. Smart fertilizers Traditionally, it takes a lot of fossil fuels to turn nitrogen from the air into fertilizer. Additionally, it is difficult for farmers to put exactly the right amount of fertilizer in the right place at the right time for crops to use it effectively. Fertilizers are often overapplied and not used by crops, ending up polluting, either as greenhouse gases or water contaminants. But a new generation of fertilizers aims to solve these problems. Smart bio-fertilizers use microorganisms that are bred or modified to live in harmony with crops and capture nutrients from the environment, delivering them to crops without waste.

3. Precision fermentation Since the dawn of history, man has used microorganisms to transform sugars and starches into fermented products such as beer, wine and bread. But before long, precision fermentation will be used to produce many more products. For decades, this technology has been used to create most of the world’s insulin and rennet enzyme used in cheese making. The United States recently allowed the use of animal-free fermented dairy protein — made by inserting milk-producing genes into microbes — in ice cream, which is now available for sale. It’s only a matter of time before precision-fermented products become commonplace in supermarkets around the world. In the future, if fermentation microorganisms are fed with waste products (such as leftover “spent grains” from brewing or starch waste from vegetable proteins), farmers could create low-impact products. and high value from organic materials that would otherwise be wasted and decompose into greenhouse gases.

Comments are closed.