CO2 reduction in agriculture: innovative agricultural machinery part of the solution
When it comes to future reductions of CO2 emissions from agriculture and LULUCF (Land use, land use change and forestry) to fight against climate change, innovative agricultural machine technology clearly is part of the solution.
Looking at the proven sustainability benefits of precision farming and smart machine technology they arguably rank among the most promising and cost-effective GHG reduction measures for agriculture in the years to come. Most importantly, they are typically win-win measures, helping farmers to increase/optimize output while reducing costs for the application of e.g. seeds, pesticides, fertilizers and fuel. In addition, thanks to the provision of a variety of agronomic data, precision farming is set to support a better monitoring, documentation, modelling, and – eventually – reduction of CO2 emissions in agriculture.
In terms of challenges and obstacles, the absence of a coherent EU policy framework that would systematically support the uptake of meaningful emissions reduction measures in agricultural practice comes to mind. Current EU climate, research, industrial and agricultural policies are often insufficiently aligned to support this overall objective. What is needed is a comprehensive EU policy approach that ensures that single reduction steps are optimized in ways that clear, positive spill-over effects on the overall CO2 balance from agriculture are ensured.
Another major obstacle is the often insufficient investment capacity by farmers to make use of all available reduction techniques that are already available on the market. The 2015 JRC assessment confirmed that farmers are most likely to such apply reduction measures if they result in positive income effects. Relevant EU policy tools should therefore aim to incentivize farm investment in those innovative techniques and technologies that have a proven CO2 reduction track record.
In terms of methodology, the use of a standardized uniform measure – for instance, the amount of CO2 in agriculture used per ton of grain equivalent output – should be adopted in order to arrive at comparable quantitative data models that show sustainability and resource efficiency gains as well as emissions reductions achieved along the entire production chain.
Innovative agricultural machinery as part of the solution to reduce CO2 in agriculture is one of the key messages highlighted in the CEMA’s contribution to the European Commission’s recent consultation on Addressing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and LULUCF in the context of the 2030 EU climate and energy framework. This initiative is a first step towards incorporating agriculture and forestry - the last major sectors without common EU-wide rules on GHG - into the EU's emission-reduction efforts. The full CEMA submission can be found in the file below.
Furthermore, the agricultural machine manufacturers represented in CEMA are currently working on a project to investigate how to reduce CO2 emission in agricultural processes. During the project a assesment of the current situation regarding CO2 emissions is carried out, together with research in the reduction potential of CO2 emissions in agricultural processes. More information on the study can be found here.