Agriculture technology and the fight against global warming 2023

Carbon Conversations: In the future, it will not suffice to merely increase yield. The effects on climate and the environment continue to be crucial.

Throughout many decades, the growth of ag technology has led to major improvements in agricultural output, food supply, and food safety. For instance, the numerous advancements in plant breeding to overcome certain abiotic and biotic challenges, such as drought, cold soil conditions, disease pressure, and numerous other production challenges farmers face during the growing season, have resulted in substantial increases in yield throughout the world.

However, these yield improvements and the success of the agriculture revolution in reducing the yield gap came with human and environmental costs, such as soil erosion and soil degradation caused by the intensive use of tillage and chemicals to manage certain soils, regardless of the environmental outcomes. The overarching principle of ag technology is to increase yield, which is indisputable; however, the negative effects on soil biodiversity, water quality, greenhouse gas emissions, soil health, etc. are the drawbacks of the agriculture revolution’s unidimensional focus on increasing yield regardless of the environmental costs.

Climate concerns need that ag technology concentrate on solving climate change and productivity by reimagining new technologies to be human- and environment-centered with a balance between productivity, food safety, and environmental resilience. Climate mitigation through agricultural systems is predicated on increasing plant efficiency in absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide and storing it in plant biomass and soil, as well as decreasing the carbon footprint.

These are fundamental principles that must be incorporated into the development of new agricultural technologies, such as fertilizer formulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing facilities and fields (one-third of GHG emissions are attributed to agriculture); reducing residual negative effects of chemicals (e.g., herbicides, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers) on humans, the soil microbial community, and soil biodiversity; and rethinking tillage and residue management.

A comprehensive strategy

The sluggish basis of climate mitigation in general and via farm systems in collecting carbon dioxide demonstrates the importance of implementing a more comprehensive strategy and strong technology for lowering emissions and removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Scientists from Europe and the United States have published a new paper indicating that new CO2 removal techniques account for barely 0.1% of the 2 billion metric tons removed from the atmosphere annually, compared to 37 billion tons of yearly emissions.

The conclusion of the analysis was that carbon removal must increase by a factor of 30 by the year 2030 in order to meet the emission reduction target and keep the increase in global temperatures below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. As indicated by the Infrastructure Law, current national efforts to combat climate change are important (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act). This approach lacks balance when it comes to addressing agriculture technology as a component of climate solutions through real financing and regulations that guide the development of more efficient new ag technologies.

To achieve transformation in agriculture technology in order to achieve resilient agriculture systems as an effective tool for climate mitigation and food security, a national policy is required along with substantial investment in ag technology and a genuine shift in the industry and production model. These transitions must adhere to the following guidelines:

Achieving a balance between food security, safety, and environmental impact. The purpose of the ag revolution was to address food production issues and bring answers to food shortages and quality in several regions of the world. Yet, these initiatives succeeded food production and provision in many regions of the world by boosting yield through intensive inputs and management, resulting in unexpected outcomes.

The increase in GHG emissions since the industrial revolution, during which CO2 concentration increased by fifty percent (278 ppm at the preindustrial level to 417 ppm at the current level), causing significant environmental damage; and its impact on human survival through extreme events such as flooding, drought, population displacement, and social unrest. Ag technology must be included into climate solutions, including a thorough reevaluation of existing fertilizer, chemical, equipment, and seed technology advancements in order to strike a balance between food security, quality, and any environmental side effects of such technology.

Combining yield and ecological enhancements. The initial objective was yield enhancement, which was achieved by the application of technologies such as plant breeding to combat drought, seed treatments to combat soilborne diseases, and fertilizer formulations to boost nutrient availability, among others. Yet, many additional detrimental effects on human and soil health, soil biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, water quality deterioration, and other impairments to ecosystem services are overlooked. The creation of several technologies has evolved through time, but coupling and balancing food production and the conservation of ecological services is still absent. This should serve as a guiding concept for the development of new technologies and products through the introduction of new incentives and regulations that promote the use of more energy-efficient technology to solve climate issues.

Use green energy technologies. The growth of agricultural technology and goods has relied on fossil fuels and equipment powered by these sources, which have contributed to climate change and other environmental issues. It is essential that the development of new agricultural technologies be based on the use of renewable natural resources to reduce the carbon footprint, the production of biodegradable and environmentally safe materials to improve soil biodiversity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and enhance human and soil health, and the enhancement of soil biodiversity.

Profitability and social responsibility in balance. The new era of climatic issues demands everyone of us to contribute to the solution of climate change. These options involve the agriculture business as a recipient of societal resources and taxpayer contributions to provide financing and assistance for the development of present and future infrastructure and technology. In its business model, the agribusiness sector must incorporate social consciousness and contribution to society by striking a balance between profit and civic duty by making technology ecologically safe, accessible, and a contributor to climate solutions. It is crucial for the ag industry to acknowledge that its technologies should have a minimal carbon footprint contribution to the environmental difficulties we face, and to commit to being part of the solution.