CIRAD - Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement

12/03/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/03/2019 08:56

Climate | Developing organic fertilization, for more sustainable, resilient agriculture

CIRAD and its partners have submitted a contribution on the topic of fertilization to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This is the fourth contribution under the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) aimed at ensuring that agriculture is included in climate talks. This latest appraisal concerns the use of nutrients for more sustainable, resilient farming systems. A workshop is scheduled on the topic on 3 and 4 December, at COP25 in Madrid. The key messages of the contribution are set out below.

On a global scale, agriculture and land use changes are responsible for around a quarter of anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Those GHGs stem mainly from deforestation, agricultural emissions resulting from livestock farming, with some 20 to 25% caused by soil and nutrient management. This issue will be covered in the next workshop of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) to be held on 3 and 4 December in Madrid, during COP25.

Providing negotiators with scientific information

Prior to each thematic workshop, countries and observers of the de UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), such as CIRAD, have the opportunity of submitting proposals to the UNFCCC executive bodies. CIRAD has chosen to position itself at the interface between science and policy on these issues, by providing the negotiators with concise scientific information. Since the KJWA was launched, CIRAD has made three such submissions, jointly with scientific partners such as INRA, IRD, ISRA, EMBRAPA, etc).

Fertilization, for more sustainable, resilient farming systems

Its fourth contribution contains several key messages on the merits of organic fertilization for building sustainable, resilient farming systems, including:

Fostering nutrient recycling within farming systems
If they were produced by recycling, organic fertilizers could replace mineral fertilizers, hence avoiding GHG emissions.

Improving the interactions between livestock, crops and trees
There could be substantial advantages in terms of the recycling, availability and efficient use of nutrients. Livestock manure is a major, as yet underestimated source of nitrogen.

Boosting carbon capture in the soil can foster food security and help mitigate and adapt to climate change
It could play a role in soil structuring, reduced soil erosion, increased soil water retention capacity, and an impact on belowground and aerial biodiversity, and on related ecosystem services and nutrient cycles.

Collective submissions, for greater impact

For theses submissions, CIRAD has opted to join forces with 19 signatory organizations* in ten countries, to:

  • Prove that the global scientific community is committed to these topics;
  • Make these research organizations' work more visible and highlight their value for addressing the issues facing societies worldwide;
  • Shine the spotlight on any possible geographical specificities.

Agriculture at last has a place in climate talks

Since COP23 in 2017, agriculture has no longer just been seen as a source of GHG emissions, but also as a potential carbon sink. This global realization resulted in the implementation of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture, an operation that began two years ago and is due to run until November 2020. Through workshops and expert meetings, negotiators from each of the countries that signed the Paris Agreement have been working on how to take greater account of agriculture in implementing the agreement, particularly as regards aspects such as adaptation and mitigation, as a potential carbon sink. This is crucial, since it could ensure that agriculture is included in measures to ensure adaptation to climate change, and carbon sinks of agricultural origin (and not just forests) are included in national greenhouse gas inventories.

* University of Aberdeen (UK) - College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Makerere University (Uganda) - CEA, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission - CEIGRAM, the Research Centre for the Management of Agricultural and Environmental Risks of the Polytechnic University of Madrid (Spain) - CIMMYT, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center - CIRAD, the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development - GASL Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock, FAO - IBC&SB, Institute of Bioenergy Crops and Sugar Beet (Ukraine) - IIASA, the International Institute for Applied System Analysis - IITA, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture - INIA, the Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (Spain) - INRA, the French National Institute for Agricultural Research - IRD, the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development - ISRIC, the International Soil Reference and Information Centre - World Soil Information - LRI, Laboratoire des RadioIsotopes (Madagascar) - MSU, Lomonosov Moscow State University (Russia) - STC, the scientific and technical committee of the 4 per 1000 initiative - ULS, the University of Life Sciences in Lublin (Poland) - VAAS, the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences.