Fertilizers and climate change
Fertilizers play two essential roles in the fight against climate change.
First, they forestall deforestation
, as they allow for increased productivity on arable land. They help maintain the integrity of globe’s forests, which are important carbon sinks. In the context of climate change, this is crucial, as deforestation and loss of peatlands, wetlands and grasslands combined represent about 10% of global GHG emissions, not to mention considerable damages to the ecosystem.
Sustainable intensification of agriculture productivity on arable land has already managed to preserve 1 billion hectares of land between 1961-2005
, and more can be achieved through the implementation of best management practices in fertilizer use.
Second, they also increase the carbon sequestration potential of agricultural soils
by contributing to the building up of soil organic matter (SOM). SOM importantly facilitates higher nutrient uptake by plants, and increased plant growth absorbs more CO2 from the atmosphere.
Soils deserve special attention - they can store up to 50-300 tonnes of carbon per hectare, which is equivalent to 180-1100 tons of CO2! 89% of agriculture’s future mitigation potential is based on soil carbon sequestration.
Carbon sequestration in cultivated soil can be increased by adding appropriate organic and mineral nutrients for biomass production, as well as by reducing tillage, and using cover crops.
In order to maximize carbon sequestration in soil organic matter, the fertilizer industry advocates the integrated use of available plant nutrients
(organic and inorganic) to improve crop and biomass production.