Air and greenhouse gas emissions

Optimising the use of energy-intensive products, e.g. nitrogen fertilisers

Optimising energy consumption is an important part of sustainable agricultural production, but it does not solve the whole problem. Every product we buy for individual or farm use requires a certain amount of energy to produce, store (e.g. at low temperatures), transport and finally dispose of.

It is not possible to calculate the energy input required to produce and deliver a given product on its own. However, more and more publications are appearing that provide relevant data on this subject.

One of the products used on the farm that requires high energy inputs in the production process is synthetic fertilisers.

Optimising the use of fertilisers does not only mean measurable financial savings, but also a noticeable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In the case of intensive crops – winter rape, for example – as much as 78% of the carbon footprint comes from synthetic fertilisers, mainly nitrogen-based. The same is true for other inputs: machinery, equipment, construction materials, plant protection products, etc. – Optimising purchasing and consumption is an important element in the overall reduction of these gases.

Optimising fertiliser use is all about getting the dose right – there should be neither too much nor too little.

The ‘Green Deal’ regulations undertaken in 2021 target a 20% reduction in synthetic fertiliser use by 2030 and force farmers to optimise fertiliser application and move away from averaging fertiliser application rates for a field. The increasingly widely used tools of precision farming – an important part of sustainable agriculture – are coming to the rescue. Here, fertiliser needs – as well as irrigation or plant protection product use – are determined for a specific location, and computer-controlled precise dosing of the appropriate dose allows for optimal fertiliser use.