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The role of agricultural inputs in the prevention of natural disasters

Image of an eye of a hurricane from outer space

Image of an eye of a hurricane from outer space

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Today, October 13, is the day proposed by the UN General Assembly as the International Day for Disaster Reduction (DIRD), in order to promote a global culture to prevent, mitigate and anticipate measures against natural disasters, whose frequency and intensity in the last three decades has increased considerably as a result of climate change.

The relationship between climate change and natural disasters was confirmed by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), more than 10 years ago. The IPCC is the main international organization in charge of evaluating climate change and offering a scientific scope of it, as well as its possible environmental and socioeconomic repercussions. The natural disasters related to global warming are floods, torrential rains, cyclones and hurricanes, waves of cold or heat, droughts and fires due to the latter.

The anthropocentric origin of climate change admits less and less discussion, and its main causes are the release of greenhouse gases. Among these, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Carbon dioxide, which is emitted in greater proportion than the others, comes from the combustion of oil, natural gas and coal, mainly. However, in the emission of methane and nitrous oxide, agriculture and livestock have a good part of responsibility. Methane is emitted mainly by the decomposition of organic matter from landfills and livestock. Nitrous oxide, although released to a lesser extent than carbon dioxide, has a 300-fold higher greenhouse or heating power. Its emission is mainly due to the use of fertilizers with synthetic nitrogen compounds that the plant can not absorb and are processed, above all, by soil bacteria.

This matter, already was treated last Monday by Pierre Du Jardin in his paper on "Biostimulants ti enhance nutrient use efficiency", within the program of the Digital Week of the Bioestimulant World Congress organized by NewAG International. Du Jardin addressed this issue as a problem of enormous relevance. Not only for the productive interest of the maximum use of nutrients by the plants for a better yield of the crops, but also from the environmental point of view.

Among the ways to address the problem of releasing reactive nitrogen species into the environment that will be processed and produce nitrous oxide, for Du Jardin the most relevant was the commitment to the research and development of biostimulants that favor greater use of nitrogen by of the plant to avoid both the amount of fertilizer used and to reduce its release to the environment. Therefore, it is fundamental to bet on sustainability from the research and development of biostimulants that provide the plant with capacities such as the efficient use of nitrogen to reduce both its filtering in the soil and its evaporation.

As Du Jardin pointed out, biostimulants are not fertilizers. Fertilizers are nutrient suppliers. However, although biostimulants can also provide nutrients, their main function is to modulate functions of the plant to improve their metabolic capacities, either to overcome situations of stress, for example, or to use certain metabolic and growth routes, using more efficient nutrients available. The basis of a good biostimulant is in the deep knowledge of its mode of action in the physiology of the plant.

Companies in the agricultural input sector can intervene positively preventing climate change and its implications, developing products with low environmental impact that also compensate the use of other high impact fertilizer products, preventing and mitigating the release of greenhouse gases directly related to the agricultural activity.

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