Carbon Footprint and Precision Farming - The Best with Sensors

The carbon footprint is a tool that measures the amount of gases ( GHG , greenhouse gases ) emitted into the atmosphere derived from the activities of production or consumption of goods and services.

Measure the Carbon Footprint (MHC) , is to collect data that comes from the direct and indirect consumption of products and energy of an organization and convert them into CO2 emissions to have an inventory of emissions.

In this article we are going to discuss the pros and cons of agriculture in the carbon footprint.

Gases that give rise to the carbon footprint

The atmosphere is a fluid made up of different types of gases. Some of these gases absorb solar radiation and make a dome-like effect like the roof of a greenhouse that retains heat and allows a suitable temperature to host life on earth.

The problem is whether the emission is higher than what is considered a natural emission. Emissions of synthetic origin that cause excessive heating. That leads to climate change.

The Kyoto Protocol is the protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and an international agreement that aims to reduce the emissions of eight greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

According to this protocol, greenhouse gases are:

Greenhouse effect gases
Greenhouse effect gases

Agriculture and the emission of gases

Agriculture is estimated to have a 25-30% impact on greenhouse gas emissions. But sustainable and precision agriculture reduces this percentage.

Main sources of emissions of agents related to agriculture that affect the carbon footprint:

It should also be noted:

  1. Tillage of the soil influences the dynamics of organic matter: changes the humidity and temperature conditions of the soil, incorporates the residues and periodically breaks the soil structure. In such a way that the loss of organic matter due to mineralization is usually accelerated, which usually corresponds to a greater emission of CO2 from the soil to the atmosphere (Álvaro-Fuentes et al., 2008).
  2. Irrigation of crops influences the dynamics of CO2 flux from soils , in such a way that a decrease in the amounts of water supplied to them is expected to decrease CO2 flux rates from the ground, which mitigates global warming.

Carbon dioxide increase

Ciclo del carbono
Natural carbon cycle. COS = Soil Organic Carbon SOS = Soil Organic Matter COD = Dissolved Organic Carbon.

In the diagram we indicate the different ways of absorbing carbon dioxide and eliminating it again into the atmosphere, both by plants and by eroded lands, especially dry and lacking organic matter, and by the oceans.

El equilibrio se rompe cuando debido a la industria, las grandes ciudades y las tierras erosionadas,  la emisión de CO2 aumenta y rompe el ciclo natural.

This also increases the desert areas and the carbon footprint increases more and more. Preventing desertification and reducing emissions is urgent and fundamental.

Precision agriculture reduces carbon footprint

As we can see in the table above there are many factors of the agricultural process that influence the carbon footprint. But other factors can mitigate this increase.

Precision agriculture can help reduce the carbon footprint by improving soil organic matter ( SOM ) and retaining soil organic carbon ( COS ). Precision farming optimizes land management based on your needs.

  • Increase agricultural areas with sustainable agriculture.
  • Reduce the use of chemical fertilizers to a minimum , sulfates, nitrates and following the advice of specialists. Use exclusively when necessary and in just the right amount. Change them for organic fertilizers whenever possible.
  • Control the use of phytosanitary products , try to avoid the disease with humidity and temperature controls so as not to have to treat possible pests.
  • Make mapping of the soil to assess its composition and texture and thus add the nutrients you need according to the type of crop.
  • Images satellite that indicate various factors such as temperature, humidity and state of the crop. We can assess the area that needs a specific treatment.
  • Studies with drones of the crop that indicate the needs of each crop and can prevent us from the appearance of pests that are eradicated at the beginning. Weed control.
  • Install humidity sensors Plantae that help optimize irrigation with water and energy savings. These sensors also avoid water stress in plants and favor photosynthesis that absorbs CO2 and favors the carbon footprint, avoiding the closure of stomata during photosynthesis. They also avoid puddles that can lead to the appearance of fungi in the root system.
  • Plantae conductivity sensors to measure soil salinity.
  • Subsoil temperature sensors Plantae that help prevent the onset of diseases and thus avoid the use of pesticides.
  • Weather Station, con pluviómetro y anemómetro.
  • Use the appropriate machinery with reduced emissions.
Plantae sensors / probe
Humidity, temperature and conductivity sensors / probe to control all types of irrigation

Incidencia de la precision farming y ecológica en el suelo

The promotion of precision agriculture has a positive influence on the organic matter of the soil, achieving a biodiversity that favors:

  • La disponibilidad de nutrientes para las plantas y por tanto mejora la calidad de sus frutos.
  • It favors the flow of carbon from the atmosphere to the ground.
  • It improves soil structure.
  • It favors pest control.
  • Improves the root system of the plant therefore its nutrition.
  • Environmental impact is reduced.

Recommendations that favor soil organic carbon

  • Use plant covers that prevent evaporation because more moisture is retained.
  • Promote organic fertilizers , taking advantage of their own crop residues and animal manure.
  • Practice fallow , letting the land rest to regenerate and rest.
  • Rotate crops , avoiding soil erosion because not all use the same nutrients.
  • Reduce tillage to prevent carbon from returning to the atmosphere.
  • The direct sowing on the stubble to avoid the alteration of the land with the plow.
  • Avoid runoff . This is favored with drip irrigation, avoiding water losses, especially on sloping land.
  • Favor the contrast of trees, cattle and pastures . This makes the system more sustainable and improves productivity in an ecological way.
Reducir el carbono
Elements that reduce the carbon footprint

Sources consulted:



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