Zoom into Soil: Using Data to Improve Sustainability

Oct 5, 2022 | Videos

In collaboration with the International Fertiliser Society and Cranfield University, we welcome our first speaker, Dr Gerard Ros from Wageningen University, who presents, ‘The value of data driven approaches to improve agricultural sustainability across spatial scales’. To meet the demands of a growing population, agriculture continues to intensify, along with increasing and evolving impacts on crop growth, soil and environmental quality. Moving farming systems to a more efficient and sustainable future, it is key to have insights on existing opportunities of operational and strategic management, and simple and robust indicators to monitor agronomic and environmental performance. Data driven approaches have huge potential to give insights in the drivers controlling soil quality and associated nutrient efficiency as well of the impact of agronomic measures while accounting for site specific agro-ecological conditions. Existing approaches for field, farm and regional scale applications are evaluated with a focus on soil health and nutrient efficiency.

Our second speaker is Dr Ruben Sakrabani from Cranfield University who presents ‘Challenges and opportunities for utilising organo-mineral fertilisers in promoting sustainable agriculture’. Implementation of sustainable agriculture is challenging as we need to strike a balance between optimising crop yield to meet food security to support a growing global population, and ensuring soil, as a valuable resource, is not exploited. One of the key challenges to optimise crop yield is ensuring that nutrients are provided in a timely manner at the various crop growing stages. In the UK, agriculture is responsible for 9% of all GHG emissions, and over 50% of these emissions are due to the manufacture and use of nitrogen (N) based fertilisers to maintain yields. Consequently, a more sustainable way forward is to utilise renewable sources of fertiliser which have improved crop uptake, conserve soil health and reduced adverse environmental impacts. This presentation will explore the definition of organo-mineral fertilisers and how it can be manufactured, with a summary of current knowledge on how to use and handle them. Whilst the use of organo-mineral fertilisers offers opportunities to support sustainable agriculture, it comes with its own challenges such as variability of feedstock, moisture content of feedstock, investment of drying technology, transportation, farmer perception on use of a new product in the market, traceability and finally cost to the farmers and subsequent impact on food prices to the consumers. The role of new technologies in treating organic waste feedstocks and converting into resources for organo-mineral fertiliser production will also be discussed. This talk provides a synthesis of these challenges and opportunities and present an overview of how the use of organo-mineral fertilisers can play a role in supporting agriculture in the coming years.

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