The European Green Deal is a bundle of strategies aiming to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. It is intended as a new, sustainable and inclusive growth strategy to boost the economy, improve people’s health and quality of life, care for nature, and leave no one behind.
The Farm-to-Fork Strategy is, next to the Climate Action Plan, one of the core elements of the European Green Deal. It addresses the challenges of accelerating the transition to sustainable food systems without compromising the economic, social and environmental foundations of food and nutrition security for current and future generations. It aims at enabling a “just transition” for all actors of the food systems, in which also social inequalities are reduced, food poverty is addressed, and a fair income for all actors is ensured. The Farm-to-Fork Strategy builds on innovative solutions that can be scaled up, such as agro-ecological and organic practices, alternative sources of protein (e.g. plant-based, ocean-based, insect-based, etc.), sustainable food from the oceans and aquaculture, and personalised advice relating to sustainable healthy diets.
Among other ambitious targets, bold objectives are set for crop nutrients: reduce nutrient losses by 50% by 2030 (assumed to lead to 20% less fertiliser use) towards zero pollution of water, soil and air. The objectives address two of the main challenges of industrial agriculture: biodiversity loss and continued low water quality status in Europe. Both challenges are closely linked with prevailing agricultural practices causing extinction of insects, bird-, terrestrial- and soil-life and oversupply of nutrients to ground- and surface waters.
The nutrient loss related problems could be tackled by solutions readily available for implementation: precision agriculture following the 4R Principles (right source, right rate, right time, and right place), by using digital tools and high efficiency delivery (e.g., fertigation) and fertilisers releasing nutrients at times and in quantities plants can absorb (controlled release fertilisers), soil improvers averting soil erosion and surface run-off (the main routes for phosphorus losses to water) and biodiversity enhancing farming practices providing improved conditions for fertiliser use efficiency.
The talk covers the policies and the opportunities and threats for industries serving the crop nutrition and soil improvement markets, and discuss responses that the author considers to be appropriate.