The next time you hear about carbon neutrality, think of food security and sustainable agriculture solutions. With 795 million people in the world who do not get enough food to lead healthy, active lives, you will hear about this issue more often.
NCGA Director of Soil Health and Sustainability Dr. Nick Goeser, who also directs the Soil Health Partnership, recently participated in a highly innovative, hands-on design lab for university students to create solutions to the emerging challenge of a carbon neutral food supply. Berkeley Nourishing 9 Billion Solution Lab is at the center of hosting events on college campuses to focus on food security and sustainable agricultural solutions. The event took place at Washington University in St. Louis.
Worldwide, 17 million children suffer from severe malnutrition and deadly conditions left untreated. With the world population growing from 7 billion to 9 billion people by 2050, the importance of surfacing solutions becomes apparent.
“Business, industry and even individual consumers are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. In agriculture, farmers are looking to improve and expand carbon-neutral crop production methods such as conservation tillage and cover crops,” Goeser said. “Cover crops are plantings such as rye and clover that reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released while keeping key nutrients trapped in the soil.”
Students attending the event discussed changes in public policy that would support or inhibit changes in farming practices; the role of precision ag, biotechnology, soil nutrition and fertilizers; and the carbon implications of organic versus conventional production techniques.
“NCGA is partnering in a long-term initiative called the Soil Health Partnership that is collecting the data and communicating on the agricultural management practices that improve soil health, crop yields, economic performance, carbon sequestration and broader environmental performance,” he said. “Many farmers are already implementing innovative management practices. This farmer-led project provides a platform for information sharing that will be critical to agricultural sustainability.”
“Carbon neutrality” is a term used to describe the action of organizations, businesses and individuals trying to remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as each releases. The overall goal of carbon neutrality is to achieve a zero carbon footprint.