Carbon footprint and precision agriculture

The carbon footprint is a tool that measures the amount of gases ( GHG, greenhouse gases ) emitted into the atmosphere derived from the activities of production or consumption of goods and services.

Measuring the carbon footprint (MHC) , is collecting data that comes from the direct and indirect consumption of the products and energy of an organization and converting them into CO2 emissions to have an inventory of emissions.

In this article we will discuss the pros and cons of agriculture in the carbon footprint..

Gases that give rise to the carbon footprint

The atmosphere is a fluid made up of different types of gases. Some of these gases absorb solar radiation and make a dome-like effect like a greenhouse roof that retains heat and allows a suitable temperature to support life on earth..

The problem is if the emission is higher than what is considered a natural emission. Emissions of synthetic origin that cause excessive heating. That leads to climate change.

Kyoto Protocol is the protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and an international agreement that aims to reduce the emissions of eight greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

Agriculture and gas emission

Agriculture is estimated to have between 25% and 30% impact on greenhouse gas emissions. But precision and sustainable agriculture reduces this percentage.

Main sources of emissions from agriculture-related agents that affect the carbon footprint:

Also worth noting:

  1. Tillage of the soil influences the dynamics of organic matter: it changes the humidity and temperature conditions of the soil, incorporates the residues and breaks the soil structure periodically. In such a way that the loss of organic matter due to mineralization is usually accelerated, which usually corresponds to a higher CO2 emission from the soil to the atmosphere (Álvaro-Fuentes et al., 2008).
  2. Irrigation of crops influences the CO2 flow dynamics of soils , so that a decrease in the amounts of water supplied to them is expected to decrease the flow rates of CO2 from the soil, which mitigates global warming.

Increased carbon dioxide

Precision carbon-agriculture cycle

In the diagram we indicate the different ways of absorbing carbon dioxide and removing it again into the atmosphere, both by plants and by eroded lands, especially dry and lacking organic matter and by the oceans.

The balance is broken when due to industry, big cities and eroded land, CO2 emission increases and breaks the natural cycle.

This also increases desert areas and increasingly increases the carbon footprint. Avoiding desertification and reducing emissions is urgent and fundamental.

Precision agriculture reduces carbon footprint

As we can see in the table above there are many factors of the agricultural process that influence the carbon footprint. But other factors may mitigate this increase.

Precision agriculture can help reduce carbon footprint by improving soil organic matter ( MOS ) and retaining soil organic carbon ( COS ). Precision agriculture optimizes land management based on your needs.

  • Increase agricultural areas with sustainable agriculture.
  • Reduce the use of chemical fertilizers to a minimum , sulfates, nitrates and following the advice of specialists. Use only when necessary and in its fair amount. Change them for organic fertilizers as much as possible.
  • Control the use of phytosanitary , try to avoid the disease with humidity and temperature controls to avoid having to treat possible pests .
  • Make maps of soil to assess its composition and texture and thus add the nutrients it needs depending on the type of crop.
  • Satellite images indicating various factors such as temperature, humidity and crop status. We can assess the area that needs specific treatment.
  • Studies with drones of the crop that indicate the needs of each crop and can prevent us from the appearance of pests that they eradicate at the beginning. Bad control herbs.
  • Install humidity sensors Plantae that help optimize irrigation with water and energy savings. These sensors also avoid the water stress of the plants and favor photosynthesis that absorbs CO2 and favors the carbon footprint, preventing the closure of stomata during photosynthesis. They also prevent waterlogging that can lead to fungal growth in the root system.
  • Plantae conductivity sensors to measure soil salinity.
  • Subsoil temperature sensors Plantae that help prevent the onset of diseases and thus avoid the use of pesticides.
  • Use the appropriate machinery with reduced emissions.

Incidence of ecological and precision agriculture in the soil

The promotion of precision agriculture positively influences the organic matter of the soil, achieving a biodiversity that favors:

  • The availability of nutrients for plants and therefore improves the quality of their fruits.
  • It favors the flow of carbon from the atmosphere to the soil.
  • Improves the structure of the soil.
  • Favors pest control.
  • Improves the root system of the plant and therefore its nutrition.
  • The environmental impact is reduced.

Recommendations that favor soil organic carbon

  • Use ground covers which prevent evaporation because more moisture is retained.
  • Promote organic fertilizers , taking advantage of the crop residues themselves and animal manure.
  • Practice the fallow , resting the land to regenerate and rest.
  • Rotate the crops , avoiding wear and tear on the ground because not all of them waste the same nutrients.
  • Reduce tillage to prevent carbon from returning to the atmosphere.
  • < li> direct sowing on stubble to avoid disturbing the soil with the plow.
  • Avoid runoff . This is favored with drip irrigation, avoiding water losses, especially on sloping terrain.
  • Favor the contrast of trees, livestock and pastures . This makes the system more sustainable and improves productivity in an ecological way..
Decrease carbon footprint