In November 2017, the COP23 (Conference of Parties, the decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention) adopted a landmark Decision on Agriculture, the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (Decision 4/CP.23).
The Joint Work on Agriculture will be undertaken until 2020 by the two Subsidiary Bodies to the COP: the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation; and the issues under consideration include improved nutrient use and manure management, and improved soil health and fertility.
Observer organizations were invited in early 2018 to contribute to an online consultation on issues to include in the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture, to which IFA participated.
IFA highlighted the following key messages in its Submission:
- GHG emissions from fertilizer application should be considered in relation to the unit of output of crops grown, so as to not jeopardize agricultural productivity;
- Farmers can adapt to the negative effects of climate change through the implementation of Fertilizer Best Management Practices;
- Fertilizer Best Management Practices can reduce GHG emissions from fertilizer application, prevent deforestation and increase soil carbon sequestration;
- Integrated Plant Nutrient Management (IPNM), which entails combining organic and mineral fertilizers, is a key climate change mitigation strategy for farmers as it increases soil carbon sequestration while improving the fertility, structure, water retention and biological activity of soils.
Read our full submission here:
Fertilizers and climate change
Listen to our latest webinar with the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) and the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) to learn about the solutions fertilizers are bringing to climate change adaptation and mitigation.
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.