WHAT IS CARBON FOOTPRINT?
It is the carbon dioxide equivalent of the damage that human activities cause to the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced.
These studies can be individual, institutional, regional, organizational, etc. focused. Measurement studies that take into account a certain period of time are generally done on a year-by-year basis.
Carbon footprint is calculated for individuals, cities, regions, and the planet.
Earth Overshoot Day shows the date when humanity's demand for ecological resources and services for a given year exceeds what the Earth can regenerate in that year. Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by the Global Footprint Network, an international research organization that provides decision-makers with a menu of tools to help the human economy work within the ecological boundaries of the Earth.
For 2022, Earth Overshoot Day was on July 29. On that day, people had consumed all the biological capacity that they should have used for the entire year. In 2018, this date was August 1. Global Footprint Network data shows that Earth Overshoot Day has been advancing three days earlier each year since 2011. This data indicates that we consume the natural resource produced by the planet in 12 months within 8 months, and start depleting natural capital for the rest of the year.
CARBON FOOTPRINT IN AGRICULTURE
The Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) has announced greenhouse gas emission data for 2020. According to the greenhouse gas inventory results, the total greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 increased by 3.1% compared to the previous year, reaching 523.9 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. During this period, energy-related emissions accounted for the largest share of total emissions at 70.2%, followed by agriculture at 14%, industrial processes and product use at 12.7%, and waste sector emissions at 3.1%.
Greenhouse gas emissions resulting from agricultural production activities are examined under three main headings: rice fields, other agricultural activities, and animal husbandry.
Other agricultural activities refer to the burning of agricultural waste or savanna, the use of nitrogen fertilizers in the soil, and the burning of biomass in open areas.
Greenhouse gases that cause global warming are generated by activities such as the combustion of fossil fuels, production of chemicals such as cement, industrial activities, transportation, changes in land use, solid waste management, and agricultural production activities.
CARBON EMISSION CALCULATION: BURNING OF STRAW
In the reduction policies to be applied as a result of carbon emission calculations, raising awareness among producers should be the primary consideration. For example, in order to facilitate easy tillage by producers after production in fields, foreign weeds and straw are burned in seedbed creation activities. This not only destroys most of the organic matter in the soil, but also causes a significant amount of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.
USE OF NITROGEN FERTILIZERS
It can be said that the use of nitrogen fertilizers is a necessity to meet the needs of the increasing world population. However, even the use of very low levels of nitrogen fertilizer can cause significant environmental problems.
While nitrogen fertilizers degrade the quality of soil and water, they also pollute groundwater and surface water sources. It reduces biological diversity and causes air pollution, while also significantly increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?
Climate change and global warming are increasing carbon emission calculation results due to human-induced pollution of nature, accelerating the greenhouse gas effects and movement in climate change.
Although the amount of greenhouse gases generated by agricultural activities seems small compared to other sectors, it is actually at significant levels that cannot be neglected.
To reduce the carbon footprint of agricultural practices:
- Reducing methane gas emissions should be prioritized when selecting food additives used in livestock farming.
- Animal manure, which is deemed suitable for biogas production, can be successfully used in anaerobic treatment for biogas production.
- Rice cultivation practices also cause high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, different alternatives, such as intermittent irrigation methods, should be preferred.
- Burning of straw during agricultural practices also causes significant greenhouse gas emissions. In this area, strict implementation of legal regulations and raising awareness among producers is necessary.