Nowadays, the term ecology is at the center of the discourse on the further development of agriculture. It's about changing our behavior and building a greener future. Much is at stake, both for individuals and for companies. We can act at different levels, but to move into action, we need to consider the different Environmental Terms understand and implement them step by step. Consequently, the question to be answered here is to what extent the Agroecology a sustainable and environmentally friendly Agriculture embodied.
Terms of agroecology
What is agroecology?
Agroecology is an agricultural approach that optimizes food production without negative externalities for nature. This agricultural system relies entirely on the functionalities offered by ecosystems. In this case, it involves using nature to support production and its maintenance (reducing greenhouse gas emissions, limiting the use of Plant protection products in the countryside, etc.). Thanks to this greener approach, the organic farming the Environmental performance and at the same time maintains the economic returns of production. Overall, the Agroecology the agricultural production systems with a diversity of crops, an extension of crop rotations in the fields and the establishment of agro-ecological infrastructures.
The concept of bioeconomy
The Bioeconomy is the use of renewable and free energy in abundance, such as solar energy. It is an economy based on the production and mobilization of biomass, whether from forestry, agriculture or aquaculture. The bioeconomy is an inexhaustible Resource, which reflected in the environment and contributes to the development of agroecology for a world with ecology in focus.
Here activities that can be used to Bioeconomy can count:
- Bioresources: represent plant and animal resources from agriculture, forestry, and fisheries.
- Agri-food industry: processed products intended for our food.
- Bio-based products: These are products that are made from plant or animal sources. They are used for the production of materials such as packaging, plastic bags, vehicle parts, paints, etc..
- Recycling of organic waste: This includes the composting of green waste and the use of manure from animal husbandry for energy production (fertilizer). This method is intended to limit the use of environmentally harmful resources by giving preference to renewable energy.
- Bioenergy: This is the use of energy stored in biomass. These include:
- Carbon converted into gas
- The biofuel
Bioenergy in agroecology
"Bioenergy can be used in a variety of ways. For example, biomass can be converted directly on site into electricity and local heat. This is the case, for example, with biogas plants with a CHP unit and local heating network. In addition, biomass can also be used as an energy source. This is done with wood pellets, which are transported by truck, or with biomethane, which can be transported in the existing natural gas network. These energy sources can then be converted into electricity and heat at locations far from the point of origin. A third and currently very attractive application is the production of fuels from e.g. agricultural residues and waste materials. Biomethane can be produced from residual and waste materials, such as straw or slurry and manure. This is done in biogas plants where microorganisms convert biomass into CO2 and methane (CH4). Besides the gas, the so-called digestate remains, which can be used as fertilizer. This makes it possible to obtain an energy source in the form of methane and fertilizer in the form of digestate. Residual and waste materials are thus utilized in the best possible way." - Henning Dicks, agriportance GmbH
How do consumers apply agroecology to their purchases?
Consumers are increasingly engaged in addressing environmental issues to promote food self-sufficiency, avoid waste, and purchase products from local and organic farms. Today, a new way of producing, distributing and consuming is critical. This is because the climate emergency, the health crisis, and the conflicts in Ukraine show how vulnerable and dependent our agricultural system is on globalization. That is why a transformation of agricultural practices is taking place.
The answer to ecological challenges
Climate change and its impact on the agricultural sector and on the Food Security are of great interest to the Ministry of Agriculture, and research makes a significant contribution to this. Accordingly, the BMEL has drawn up a strategy to increase not only agricultural production but also the quality of food. A variety of local foods should be available for the entire world population. Distribution issues and income play a role here. After all, in addition to access to healthy food, it must also be affordable. Production should be as sustainable as possible and take gender issues into account. The specific goals were set out in the 2030 Agenda.
There are many changes ahead to meet the new environmental challenges. The development agroecological practices enables the negative externalities of the intensive agriculture to reduce. The Parliamentary State Secretary, Dr. Ophelia Nick, pointed out the importance of this change at the beginning of the year: "[...] The compass must be clearly aligned in the direction of agroecology - nationally and internationally. We must think of agriculture in new ways along the entire value chain. Our new federal government is doing this - also with support projects in Africa or Asia. If we focus every step from production to preparation on sustainability and health, we can change the system decisively and preserve our planetary resources for future generations. "
Otherwise, other actors are experimenting with new agricultural and food practices that aim to initiate multidisciplinary work with different actors:
- Agricultural Engineers
- Professionals from the fields of environment or nutrition
Agroecology and consumption
How will tomorrow's consumers consume?
For many citizens today, consuming a product or service means being responsible for their choices. It is well known that most industries used practices that have a negative impact on our environment. In light of this, the consumer must become the "consom actor" and there are several ways to make one's consumption patterns more sustainable.
- Consume locally to support farmers in the region
- Buy durable and recyclable equipment
- Choose devices with good energy efficiency (class A or B).
After all, if tomorrow's shoppers determine their own consumption, companies will have to adapt to the population's consumption behavior by offering environmentally friendly products and services. In addition, the transportation of goods is a major environmental burden. Therefore, it is better to consume seasonal foods that are produced by local producers originate. Thus should short transport routes prefer to imported products. In addition, local foods are often fresh and high quality products, often produced in compliance with the organic farming are grown. Finally, consumer behavior that favors short distances also means supporting small producers. They contribute their know-how in Germany for a local, environmentally friendly and solidarity-based economy.
The development of self-sufficiency
When people talk about self-sufficiency, they imagine producing all their own food and everyday items on the land. Let's remember that the idea is not to be completely self-sufficient in all areas. Producing part of the food ourselves is a nice ecological initiative that allows us to cut out the middlemen and consume only our own harvest. There are also more and more agricultural land in the cities, which can be managed by private individuals. There are more and more people who decide to grow their own City Farm to found.
Dedicate your production to food safety
The Food Safety is of paramount importance in this production context. Therefore, urban farmers choose to use the Seeds with Plant protection products to treat to maintain or regulate their production. There are several ways to treat and protect plant organisms:
- Herbicides for the reduction of weeds
- Fungicides to control the occurrence of fungi on plants.
- Auxiliary substances for strengthening plant protection
- Trace elements for the development of crops
- Insecticides for the control of insect eggs and larvae
These products for the protection of plant organisms are used in Manure spreaders which you can find here. Plant protection products serve to utilize or, on the contrary, regulate the production of plant crops in our society. Agricultural products are of vital importance for people and animals. Therefore, certain obligations are required in terms of production and choice of plant protection products.
Certain forms of fertilizer are also increasingly criticized. A more sustainable alternative here can be insect fertilizer, for example.
"The insect fertilizer comes from zero waste production. This is a production concept in which all products manufactured can be used, for example, for plant or animal feed. Added to this is the sustainability of its starting materials: Insects have the ability to valorize organic residues that usually go to composting or biogas plants. Through insect breeding, these material flows find a very high-quality utilization, in which the nutrients and energy they contain are made available to the agricultural value chain in a direct way." - Kai Hempel, madebymade GmbH
"The special feature of insect fertilizer is that the product not only brings a variety of nutrients, but also induces biologically beneficial effects, following nature's example: A natural component of the insect fertilizer is chitin. This natural substance is found in many insect skins and is an important messenger substance in the plant world, signaling to the plant impending damage from insect feeding. If plants perceive chitin via their receptors, they activate their natural defenses and ensure that they are better protected against pathogens". - Yannik Weinreis, madebymade GmbH
Alternatives to plant protection products
The alternative techniques to plant protection products are numerous. The key is to combine different cropping systems that reduce the risk of spreading bio-pests and prevent soil erosion. Here are some alternative practices:
- Crop rotation: A practice dating back to the Middle Ages in which different plant families are grown in the same field.
- Wrong seedbed: Preparation of the soil to germinate the seeds of weeds and then destroy them before sowing.
- Structure of a plant cover: improves the fertility of your soil and reduces weeds in the following crop.
- Delay of sowing: reduces negative external effects on the environment.
- Prophylaxis: practice to limit the spread of diseases and pests.
- Mechanical tillage: or "weed control," a technique familiar from organic farming.
- Greening: previously selected species to compete with weeds.
- Mulching: Technique that restricts the growth of weeds and certain fungi by depriving them of light.
- Protective nets: This technique replaces the insecticide and prevents the butterflies from reaching the fruit (e.g. apple trees).
- Grow resistant varieties: with plants that are more resistant to diseases.
- Functional Biodiversity: Attract, house, and feed native beneficial insects around crops to help keep pest populations below economic damage thresholds.
Limit energy consumption
Being ecologically active also means reducing one's energy consumption in everyday life. In fact, there is still a lot of waste in this area among individuals or companies. The use of fossil resources is more than ever a threat to our ecosystem and we must give priority to natural resources in our daily lives. To do this, there are simple gestures that we can all adopt, such as not heating the home too much in winter, remembering to unplug or turn off electrical appliances when leaving the house, taking short showers and avoiding baths, and using household appliances in eco mode.
There is also a greener solution for our daily electricity consumption, namely solar energy. This option allows you to become a consumer and producer of your own energy, which is also renewable. The demand for Solar modules is getting bigger and bigger. It is not only environmentally friendly, but also offers the user added value in the long term. The best installation is and remains the photovoltaic system on your roof, which draws its energy from the sun's rays. Even though this installation still requires a considerable budget, the investment pays off after about ten years.
All of Europe is trying to reduce its energy consumption, including France. A report by Ademe also proposes some levers to reduce energy dependence:
- Reduction of financial risk due to energy prices#
- An optimal use of agricultural inputs
- A modernization of agricultural inputs
- The production of renewable energy for self-consumption.
For farms in addition to a solar system also a Biomass heating be interesting to reduce the Co2 footprint and make optimal use of resources.
The balance between resilience and profitability - Agroecology
Overall, it is about finding a balance between resilience and profitability to rethink our consumption patterns in favor of biodiversity. Techniques need to be implemented to achieve this:
- Align production systems to reduce working capital requirements.
- A move away from intensive livestock production and promote self-consumption and autonomy in animal nutrition.
- Relocate certain production to Germany or Europe to avoid too many imports (transport as well as seasonal products)
- Generalization of the Agroecology (Crop diversification, increased planting of hedgerows, and promotion of farmer seeds and local know-how).
- Promote sustainable labels.
Some of these methods are already proving themselves in our agricultural production, and we need to use all these examples to promote this type of activity. The future of Bioeconomy largely depends on our consumption behavior.