Rethink the approach of our food system, starting from the fundamentals (agriculture and breeding), through technological innovation (new food products and meat substitutes, for example). What methodologies and approaches should be adopted to help reduce the climate footprint of the agri-food sector?
This challenge is about everything that has to do with aspects of "production" within the agri-food system.
In Switzerland, the agri-food sector is responsible for 12% of greenhouse gas emissions (source: Inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, Federal Office for the Environment, 2017). In particular, among the various economic sectors, agriculture is the largest emitter of methane and nitrous oxide, two greenhouse gases with a high global warming potential.
Cattle farms are especially involved: during the digestion of the food they feed on, grazing livestock emit large quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas whose impact on the atmosphere is about 28 times greater than that of carbon dioxide, contributing significantly to climate change. However, grazing animals, provided they are not intensively farmed, are also an important resource for the preservation and care of the land, and are essential for the dairy sector, a production of Swiss excellence.
Greenhouse gas emissions are also caused by the use of nitrous oxide as soil fertiliser. The latter is also extremely dangerous for the climate, as it has a climate warming potential about 300 times higher than CO2. Intensive agriculture uses large quantities of these fertilisers, which require energy to be produced and deplete the soil. On the contrary, organic farming does not use synthetic products and helps to regenerate the nutrients present in soils by fixing large amounts of CO2 in the form of humus.
Finally, greenhouse agriculture also contributes to CO2 emissions if the greenhouses are not heated using renewable energy. And, in general, the use of machinery and plants with reduced energy efficiency, combined with the use of fossil fuels, contributes to the high climate footprint of the agro-food sector.
Can we encourage the transition of our agri-food system to large-scale sustainable production, capable of meeting the needs of a growing world population?
Can technology help in the development of agri-food products to replace meat in terms of nutritional quality, and that are efficient in terms of consumption of natural resources and reduction of climate emissions?
How can we enable more greenhouses powered by renewable sources, which encourage the local production of food that typically grows in warmer climates, thus reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions for transport?
How can the energy efficiency of plants and machinery used in the agri-food sector be increased by replacing fossil fuels with renewable sources?
https://fliphtml5.com/obrx/nsko/basic (pag. 16-17)