Climate change is one of the greatest threats we face today, and agriculture is no stranger to its consequences. Fortunately, biotechnology provides the sector with a range of solutions that help mitigate the effects of global warming. Would you like to know what they are? In this article, we explain some of them.
While the implementation of measures to mitigate the effects of climate change has been a recent option, from now on it is going to be an obligation. The European Union is determined. Strategies such as “Biodiversity”, “From Farm to Fork”, “Soil Protection” or even the Common Agricultural Policy itself, all within the scope of the “European Green Deal”, will become increasingly important.
The Green Deal is the roadmap for adapting European policies towards a climate-neutral circular economy. Its main aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. The “Farm to Fork” strategy also aims to reduce chemical pesticide use by 50%, the use of fertilizer and excess nutrients by 20%, as well as other actions to reduce soil, water and air pollution.
The United States announced the Agriculture Innovation Agenda in February 2020 with the same purpose; to increase production while reducing the environmental footprint of the agricultural sector.
The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, one of the most productive areas in the world, are also aware of the need to move towards sustainable and climate-resilient agri-food systems.
Is this possible? At Symborg, we’re convinced that the answer lies in innovation. Thanks to this, nowadays we know new techniques that allow us to be more efficient when it comes to using resources. The answers can be found in agricultural biotechnology.
How biotechnology helps mitigate climate change
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) describes biotechnology as “any technique that uses living organisms or substances obtained from those organisms to create or modify a product for practical purposes”, and can be applied to all types of organisms, from viruses and bacteria to animals and plants. It comprises a wide variety of instruments, from working at the level of genetic structure to working with all kinds of microorganisms, to produce agricultural products without impact on the environment.
Genetic engineering, for example, currently allows us to work with seeds and new crop varieties that are more resistant to pests and diseases, as well as to periods of drought or extreme temperatures. In addition, GMOs reduce the carbon footprint, as they require fewer agricultural tasks and reduce the carbon that is released during food production. It is also proven that biotechnological varieties obtain higher yields from plants on the same surface area.
But the concept of biotechnology is broader than that of genetic engineering. When it comes to biostimulants and biofertilizers, their contribution to climate change mitigation is also important. Here are some examples:
Biotechnological solutions enable greater use of nutrients. How do they do it? These solutions help promote the presence of beneficial microorganisms in the soil, as their activity increases the availability of nutrients for the plant. With this, crops grow stronger, achieving better yields and quality at harvest time. This reduces dependence on inputs.
Look at this other one: mycorrhizal fungi like Glomus iranicum var. tenuihypharum, patented by Symborg and the main active ingredient of our biostimulants Resid MG and Resid HC, cause plants to extract more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. How do they work? Like this: During photosynthesis, plants extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, carbon dioxide that ends up partly in the roots, where fungi form a symbiosis with plants. Through the fungi, carbon passes into the soil where it accumulates over long periods of time and helps mitigate the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
But that’s not all. These solutions give plants greater tolerance to biotic stress (produced by other living beings, animals, insects, plants, fungi, bacteria, pathogens, etc.) and abiotic stress (produced by factors such as temperature, drought, floods, soil salinity, the use of machinery or other farming tools, etc.), which also reduces the need for application of other agricultural inputs.
Biotechnology also contributes to improving the structure of the soil and its physical properties. Microorganisms also participate in the formation of stable aggregates on which the quality, evolution and conservation of the soil depend to a large extent, resulting in environmental benefits from lower production of greenhouse gases.
At Symborg we have been developing biotechnology solutions for over a decade and we are very proud that our work contributes to providing farmers with environmentally friendly solutions. Want to know more about Symborg’s biotechnology? We’re here to help.