Contribution of Chemical and Biological Technologies in Agriculture to Earth Day

Agricultural activities contribute to climate changes. In this blog, Alessandro Piccolo, Editor-in-Chief of Chemical and Biological Technologies in Agriculture, tells us how this industry can be improved so as to protect the quality of the environment and mitigate climate change.

Alessandro Piccolo
Alessandro Piccolo

The SpringerOpen Journal Chemical and Biological Technologies in Agriculture (CBTA) has, among different objectives, the aim to help developing innovative and sustainable technologies and processes, whether biotic or abiotic, to protect the quality of the environment and mitigate climate changes. In fact, CBTA is aware that, by 2010 estimates, the agricultural activities contributed to global changes with 5.2 to 5.8 Gt CO2-eq y-1 and comprised 10-12% of global anthropogenic emissions. While much can be done to reduce  these values by saving energy in the Agricultural sector through the improvement of precision management practices (rationalize the use of tractors, reduce tillage depth, introduce alternatives to massive irrigation), even more can be achieved by stimulating innovative interdisciplinary research programs aimed to highlight the natural processes that control the sink-source of carbon in soil.  It has been calculated that the reduction of just 10% of the global biotic respiration of agricultural soils, would offset all the industrial emissions of CO2 stemming from the combustion of fossil fuels.

This goal is certainly difficult to achieve because the control of soil organic carbon dynamics entails a much deeper knowledge than we presently have of the multifaceted complex processes occurring in soil, that comprise not only the solid, air and gas phases, but also the activity of soil microbial biomass and the influence of roots exudates. Nonetheless, a breakthrough in the understanding of such complex processes becomes a required prerequisite if Agriculture is called to feed the predicted 10 billion people on Earth by 2050, if based on the same soil surface of today. Moreover, the necessary innovative technologies to fulfill the goal of feeding the increased global population, must respond to sustainable requirements in order to preserve, if not restore, the existing soil resources. This can be achieved only if the natural processes of carbon dynamics in soil are finally unveiled in details and new sustainable technologies are devised when based on this advance knowledge.

40538CBTA thus encourages the scientific efforts to apply modern chemical and biochemical sciences and technologies to elucidate the biological processes in the soil-plant-microbial interphase, that will be susceptible of anthropogenic control, in order to increase the storage of carbon in soil, while maintaining high crop yields. Furthermore, the drive towards a better insight of the key processes governing the rhizosphere will also mean an increased capacity to both transform the anthropogenic contaminants of the agricultural environments into non-toxic byproducts and limit their transfer into the food cycle, thereby endangering food quality and security.

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