While the world grapples with the effects of Climate Change, there is a far more damaging greenhouse gas that has recently become a major topic of attention. Nitrous Oxide (N₂O) are some of the most damaging emissions in the world.
According to the CSIRO, N₂O has 300 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide (CO₂) and stays in the atmosphere for an average of 116 years. It’s the third most important greenhouse gas after CO₂ (which lasts up to thousands of years in the atmosphere) and methane. N₂O depletes the ozone layer when it interacts with ozone gas in the stratosphere- CSIRO
What causes N₂O emissions?
Modern Agriculture is the main cause of the rapid increase of N₂O and is likely to remain so this century unless we change the way we farm. N₂O emissions from agriculture and industry can be reduced and even drawn back to where they belong, in the soil.
The "one size, fits all" agricultural template that includes GMOs, pesticides, herbicides petroleum-based fertilisers, extensive tilling and mono-cropping is causing havoc to our collective natural assets. Modern Agriculture makes up a whopping 74% of global N₂O emissions.
How is Modern Agriculture emitting N₂O?
The emissions are created through microbial processes in soils. The use of nitrogen in synthetic fertilisers and manure is a key driver of this process.
What's the solution?
There are many ways to combat and even begin drawing down N₂O. For the sake of staying on topic, we'll focus on soil. American-based Regenerative Farming advocacy group Kiss The Ground has a very exciting Netflix movie that explains the relationship between soil and climate change. The solution is right under our feet and our heroes are our farmers.
How can farmers make the switch from chemicals to regenerative?
Most farmers have long been told that they have to use chemicals to grow food. Truth be told, the more chemicals, pesticides and herbicides they use, the less food is produced. In some cases, the switch to regenerative practices is like taking an addict off drugs cold turkey. The soil becomes so void of any microorganisms that it needs inputs to produce anything.
So what can be done?