Greenhouse gases in agriculture: an example of a solution – Solugen
GHG and Agriculture
The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), a United Nations agency, identifies five main sources of GHG emissions:
|Sources||Details||Percentage of total emissions|
|Energy||It is the production of electricity and heating by fossil fuel power plants.||35 %|
|Agriculture||It includes the following items, among others:
Soil mineralization through fertilizer inputs,
Methane production due to rice cultivation and enteric fermentation of livestock, especially in the cattle sector, conventional management of manure and slurry
and forestry: deforestation, forest fires and crop burning.
|Industry||All the activities of the heavy industry (steel industry for example) and of transformation (manufacturing industries in various fields).||21 %|
|Transportation||Transportation of all types: sea, air, land vehicles||14 %|
|Buildings||Construction, maintenance, electricity and heating of residential and non-residential buildings.||6%|
GHG emissions from agriculture in Canada
Speaking about GHG emissions from the Canadian agricultural sector, we include both crop and livestock production.
In 2019, these GHG emissions accounted for some 59 million tonnes of CO2e, which represents just over 8% of total greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, compared to 10% for the United States. This is well below the 24% of global agricultural GHG emissions. This figure highlights the disparities between national agricultures and the specificities of these agricultures:
The sources of GHG emissions from Canadian agriculture are broken down into different items as listed below.
The main greenhouse gases are :
- Water vapor (H2O)
- Carbon dioxide (CO2), responsible for nearly 65% of the anthropogenic greenhouse effect
- Methane (CH4), which is responsible for 17% of the anthropogenic greenhouse effect
- Nitrous oxide (N2O);
- tropospheric ozone (O3).
As well as industrial greenhouse gases, notably halocarbons.
In 2019, the agriculture sector generated nearly 30% of total CH4 (methane) emissions and 78% of total N2O emissions. Enteric fermentation (the digestion of livestock) accounted for some 41% of GHGs emitted by the agriculture sector in 2019, mostly methane.
Manure management (cattle, sheep, poultry and swine manure) represented 13.4% of the greenhouse gases emitted by Canadian agriculture and about 1.1% of the total GHGs emitted by Canada.
It should also be noted that the consumption of inorganic nitrogen fertilizers accounts for nearly a quarter of total agricultural emissions.
What to conclude?
First of all, we can see that the volume of annual GHG emissions from the Canadian agricultural sector is relatively stable. Indeed, since 2005, this volume has been around 60 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent.
However, for the same reference period, fertilizer use has increased by more than 70%. In 2019, the application of inorganic nitrogen fertilizers, therefore of chemical origin, represented 23% of the GHG emissions of the Canadian agricultural sector. These figures do not take into account the GHG emissions for the manufacture of these fertilizers.
An interesting article from the French Agency for Ecological Transition (ADEME), cited that for the production of one kg of average nitrogen fertilizer, the equivalent value in GHG emissions was 5.34 kg CO2eq.
It is therefore important to develop and implement methodologies and technologies to optimize manure management processes and to promote the use of organic fertilizers.
Solugen’s energy-efficient technology, which treats 10,000m3 of manure per year for a medium-sized pig farm, generates a reduction of 572 t of CO2, the equivalent of 217 tons of fuel oil. In addition, the by-products extracted from this treatment are valorized as biological fertilizers, in particular a nitrogenous solution whose fertilizing properties have recently been demonstrated by an agricultural research center.