Reducing Carbon Footprint through Digital Agriculture By Roshan Pinto, Vice President, Manufacturing and Retail at Tavant

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Global warming is not a fad, it’s our future. It has the potential to impact almost every aspect of daily living, including agriculture, as projected climatic changes can affect crop yields, livestock management, and production location. The severity of extreme weather and an increasing likelihood of events will considerably increase the risk of crop failure. Climate change might also influence soil by depleting organic matter – a significant contributor to soil fertility.

The carbon footprint of agriculture

Agriculture emissions add to a large portion of total global emissions. Over a 20-year time frame, agriculture will account for approximately 20 percent of global GHG emissions. Agriculture already plays a critical role in climate change due to the composition of emissions in the sector, heavily skewed to methane and nitrous oxide. McKinsey states that agriculture accounts for an estimated 45 percent of total methane (CH4) emissions, and about 80 percent of agricultural methane emissions are from livestock production, including enteric fermentation and manure management.

A Down to Earth Solution for Global Warming- Digital Agriculture

We are undeniably on a trajectory of too little too late. If we wait, our only hope for the future lies in technological fixes. A set of proven technologies and GHG-efficient farming practices, which are already being deployed, could achieve about 20 percent of the sector’s required emissions reduction by 2050. Agriculture must embrace a digital transformation enabled by connectivity to address these forces poised to roil the industry further.

The agriculture sector is going through a transformation driven by next-gen technologies, which seems highly promising. It will allow this primary sector to move to the next level of farm productivity and profitability. The processing of large amounts of information instantly enables for more efficient work, greater economic return, greater environmental benefits, and better working conditions in the field.

Combating Carbon Footprint through Digital Precision Agriculture with AI

According to a report by PwC and Microsoft, leveraging AI could drastically cut down worldwide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 4% in 2030. Precision agriculture combined with AI could be deployed in agriculture to reduce the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions and support initiatives to reduce water wastage.

Needless to say, artificial intelligence has taken today’s agriculture system to a different level. AI can transform agricultural production by better monitoring and managing environmental conditions and crop yields. This technology can help in enhancing crop production, conserving resources, minimizing the use of chemicals, and improving real-time monitoring,

Internet of Things- A silver bullet for climate change

In an agricultural context, the Internet of things (IoT) refers to the use of sensors and other devices to turn every action and element involved in farming into data. 10% to 15% of US farmers use IoT solutions on the farm across 1200 million hectares and 250,000 farms.  IoT drives agriculture 4.0. In fact, IoT technology is one reason why agriculture can generate a significant amount of valuable information. By using IoT sensors, farmers can collect a vast array of metrics on every facet of the field microclimate and ecosystem: lighting, temperature, soil condition, humidity, CO2 levels, and pest infections and can help in reducing carbon footprint.

Reengineering Carbon Supply Chain with Blockchain

Carbon crediting has the potential to incentivize optimal nitrogen fertilizer usage on farms. This helps to avoid negative environmental consequences such as climate change and also to supplement farmer revenues.

Interestingly, a few companies are using blockchain technology to create a new carbon removal marketplace. Anyone who wants to help reverse the changing climate can now simply pay to support CO2 removal through regenerative farming practices that pull excess carbon dioxide out of the air and lock it into the soil.

Leveraging 5G to ‘unleash’ the power of Farming

Extremely high-speed connectivity enriches the possibilities of automation in the agricultural sector. More applications are set to emerge with 5G speeds, taking the IoT in agriculture to new heights. 5G can also provide the speed, connectivity, low latency to enable a new generation of applications, services, and business opportunities that have not been seen before. Farmers can closely monitor field conditions and get information on when crops need watering, pesticides, or fertilizers using 5G. Other uses in 5G farming include piloting agricultural drones, livestock tracking, and directing self-driving tractors. The result for agriculture is enhanced crop yields, better production quality, higher profits, and major carbon footprint reduction.

Looking Beyond 

We are at the most critical moment in the history of our species. Climate change is a monumental opportunity to change course and move into a future that embraces life. In so many ways, a fundamental restructuring of how we cultivate our food is at the heart of this shift. The best hope is digital agriculture for creating a future we all want to live in.

Roshan Pinto is the Vice President, Manufacturing and Retail at Tavant, a digital products and solutions company that provides impactful results to its customers across North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.

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