“We Are Doing This Because We Owe it to the Planet”
Highlights of the COP25 Marrakech Partnership Roundtable on Sustainable Agriculture and Food
By Karthik Karathur
SOLON, Ohio (December 6, 2019) Yesterday, Locus AG was honored to take part in a moderated roundtable discussion hosted by the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action (MPGCA) during the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Madrid (COP25).
The conversation centered on how to advance climate actions on resilient and sustainable agriculture food chains for a 1.5oC net zero world with participants from four main groups:
1. NGOs and grower organizations
2. Ministers and civil servants from different countries
3. Representatives from research organizations
4. Business leaders
An audience of roughly 100 from 50 countries in six continents was invited to share their thoughts and online comments added color and broadened participation.
The discussion turned out to be pretty colorful. There was a palpable sense of frustration that not enough action was being taken. The underlying thread was that climate change can devastate farming systems, and consequently, the populations it feeds, if these systems are not made more resilient.
The discussion revolved around five areas:
1. How to build economic and livelihood benefits through a thriving agriculture food sector that is productive and provides income and decent jobs for millions of people and 500 million smallholder growers.
2. How to create healthy and well-nourished populations tackling the two burdens of malnutrition and lift 820 million people from undernourishment and help 680 million people from obesity.
3. How to build resilient food and agriculture systems: risk-informed agriculture and food value chains that can anticipate, cope and adapt to the impacts of climate change with and help growers and other actors thrive and be resilient.
4. How to reduce environmental impacts from food and agriculture systems that are a primary driver of climate change.
5. How to reduce food loss and waste that lead to food security and reduce overall GHG emissions.
The session was kicked off by Gonzalo Muñoz, the High Level Climate Champion for COP25. As a net zero grower who use regenerative agricultural practices, Gonzalo has been able to withstand the historic drought in Chile.
The question my cohort needed to answer while keeping in mind the four other discussion topics was, “How are you taking transformative action to deliver resilient and sustainable agriculture food chains?”
There were inspiring answers from:
- Christine Moseley, the CEO and Founder of Full Harvest, which is working to reduce waste in the produce supply chain for purely cosmetic reasons;
- Luis Miguel Etchevehere, the Minister for Agriculture of Argentina, on his country’s transition to regenerative agriculture;
- Diane Holdorf, Managing Director, Food and Nature at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), on the increasing attention paid by large multinationals tosustainability;
- Theo de Jager, the President of the World Farmers Organization; and
- Elisabeth Nsimadala, a grower and WFO delegate from Uganda.
How Technology Can Make Agriculture More Resilient and Sustainable
When it was my turn, I talked about how Locus Agricultural Solutions are already helping growers by providing a unique technology that can both increase yield (crucial for day-to-day profitability – and reduce deforestation pressure) while providing a suite of unparalleled environmental benefits:
- Accelerating carbon sequestration
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
- Minimizing fertilizer use and related soil nitrous oxide emissions
The allotted speaking times were very short. Given more time, I would have highlighted the importance of healthy soils and the underpinning microbiome – especially the building up of soil organic carbon; the formation of micro-aggregates in the soil can help crop lands be more resilient in the face extreme climate events that are increasing due to climate change.
Industrial farming and monoculture growing combined with an excess reliance of chemical inputs, cause the progressive loss of the topsoil and soil compaction. Compacted topsoils prevent water from being absorbed when it rains adding to flooding. Additionally, the impact of the water droplets are more catastrophic for soil and lead to erosion and soil loss.
A soil with micro-aggregates from the buildup of organic carbon has better aeration and channels for water flow. A USDA study found that the impact of rainwater droplets on micro-aggregates are not as severe, and combined with the channels in the soil, help water drain better.
Nothing can stop the forces of nature behind extreme weather, but the buildup of aggregates does make soil and crop lands more resilient.
Based on field results that show unparalleled carbon sequestration numbers (up to 9 incremental tons/acre/year) and nitrous oxide emissions reductions (60%-90%), we believe that our technology can help turn agriculture—a net driver of climate change (contributing anywhere between 10%-20% of global greenhouse gas emissions) into an engine that fights it.
A side note: carbon sequestration requires growers to transition to minimum tillage so that carbon can be put back into the soil. Tilling land causes soil erosion and releases carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. By using our technology that increases yields, we help eliminate the potential downside of yield decreases that are a byproduct of regenerative agriculture.
Soil nitrous oxide emissions is the ugly stepchild that everyone has ignored. A recent report found that we have been underestimating how much nitrous oxide is actually being emitted.
Nitrous oxide is 300x worse than carbon dioxide and makes up roughly 6% of all greenhouse gas emissions. The report states that a big source of emissions is coming from fertilizer volatilization. Our technology helps with this by reducing the use of fertilizer and related NOX emissions.
Even better when it comes to livelihoods and jobs: our natural non-GMO solutions can easily be produced anywhere in the world thanks to our state-of-the-art “frugal high-tech” fermentation systems that are low capex and do not require highly skilled professionals to operate them.
Additionally, our product line has the potential to help eliminate all chemical inputs from the agriculture supply chain.
Continuing the Conversation
Our presentation was especially well-received with numerous post-discussion inquiries about how we do what we do. We are committed to continuing the conversation and contributing to the excellent and very important work that MPGCA is doing under the auspices of the UN to help bring resilience into the supply chain.
There was one stirring memory from yesterday: an indigenous girl stood up during one of the open discussion sessions and talked about how it was important for people to do the right thing to help protect our soils and our growers. Without that, she said, there was no future for her and the generations to follow.
For more information and to see ongoing results, visit LocusAG.com/Rhizolizer.
About Locus Agricultural Solutions
Locus Agricultural Solutions (Locus AG) is a Certified B Corporation® that uses unique, microbrewery-type production technology to develop non-GMO, organic soil “probiotics” that sustainably feed the world, improve plant vitality and minimize environmental impact—starting from the ground up. The treatments are customized to local conditions, soil types and plant types, and are delivered refrigerated for maximum freshness. Ongoing treatments result in improved plant resilience and vigor, higher productivity, more soil carbon deposition and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The cost-effective solutions are easily applied without changing standard practices and specifically address top challenges, including soil health, plant productivity and climate change—while improving user profits. Locus AG leverages its core scientific capabilities from its parent organization, Locus Fermentation Solutions (Locus FS), an Ohio-based green technology company. For more information, visit LocusAG.com.