Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura (CENA) da Universidade de Sao Paulo (USP).
Avenida Centenário 303, Caixa Postal 96, CEP: 13416-000 Piracicaba, SP.
Dr Carlos Cerri graduated in Agricultural Engineering from UNESP Jaboticabal in 1971 and has his MSc and PhD from USP`s Instituto de Geociências. He is actually a Professor at CENA/USP. Since 1988 his research activities focus on soil carbon sequestration and greenhouse gases fluxes in several natural and modified ecosystems. He has a long list of peer reviewed papers and book chapters, and has coordinated more than 60 research projects funded by Brazilian and foreign funding agencies. Dr. Cerri is a member of the Brazilian Academy of Science and external member of the French Agricultural Academy. He is also a member of the Intergovernamental Panel on Climate Change since 1993.
Opportunities for climate change mitigation in the Brazilian agricultural sector
Agribusiness has long been one of the strongest sectors in the Brazilian economy, due to a combination of natural resource availability, relatively low labor costs and long term investments in science and technology. However, the ability to produce good quality food, fuel and fiber in an efficient manner is no longer sufficient - it has to be done in a sustainable way. Regarding climate change and entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector, the sustainability imperative has created opportunities for the development of solutions that lead to lower greenhouse emissions and to biological carbon sequestration. The first issue that needs to be tackled is the need for accurate diagnosis of agricultural carbon footprints for commodities produced in Brazil, following the concept of measuring in order to manage.
This generates opportunities in the development of emissions inventories, carbon footprint studies and life cycle analyses in the local, regional and country levels, drawing from the existing pool of scientific knowledge, as well as from recently developed internationally accepted protocols. Once mitigation hotspots are indentified, technological innovation can take place, creating further opportunities for entrepreneurship. One example would be the development of better data on the potential for soil carbon sequestration under improved agricultural practices such as the mechanized harvest of sugarcane without burning, no-till systems in annual crops and the improvement of degraded pastures.
Considering the large potential of the soil for carbon storage, accurately and economically measuring and monitoring stock changes with time among different management practices is increasingly important. There is also great mitigation potential in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural activities. One example is the use of technology to reduce nitrous oxide emissions from nitrogen fertilizer application, by increasing plant use efficiency and decreasing losses.
The opportunities encompass plant breeding, machinery development, the fertilizer industry and soil fertility monitoring systems, to mention a few. Methane emissions generated by the anaerobic decomposition of organic material can also represent opportunities for mitigation. Considering bovine meat, a key commodity in Brazil, there is a need for a more efficient land use, which will lead to higher cattle occupancy rates.
As more confinement or semi-confinement systems come into operation, there is a need for technological innovation in reducing manure methane emissions, including the development of biodigesters adapted to our conditions. In summary, there is a growing demand for greenhouse gas reduction and carbon sequestration strategies in the agricultural sector in Brazil. This demand can be harnessed to foment entrepreneurship that combines, on one hand, state of the art science and technology, and on the other, practical and feasible business solutions.