The agriculture sector is responsible for approximately 10% of the US’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and over 25% of GHG emissions worldwide. At VC Fuel, we believe this is a sector with significant opportunities for decarbonization fueled by existing companies and new entrants, as it does not receive the level of focus compared to other sectors that generate GHG emissions.
The three main GHGs emitted from livestock systems are methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) – making emissions of these three gases priority targets for reduction. Methane is an especially important target as it is a far more hazardous greenhouse gas per unit than CO2.
VC Fuel wants to transform traditional and linear agricultural practices to a circular bioeconomy that recycles resources at every possible step in agrifood systems and closes systems to minimize the loss of resources and nutrients. Achieving this involves deploying new technologies and practices as well as repurposing or building infrastructure. Of particular interest is using biomass companies that are already operating to realize better economic and environmental returns over time. For example, unused crop residues, food waste, and agro-industrial by-products can be recycled and optimized and repurposed for animal feed. Manure and slaughterhouse waste can be used to generate fertilizer and biogas as a source of renewable energy. (as previously discussed in the RNG section).
We are exploring a number of ways to reduce GHG emissions from agriculture.
- Adopt lower emissions on farm machinery and equipment (by far the largest area)
- Employ greenhouse gas focused genetic selection and breeding
- Expand adoption of technologies that increase uptake of livestock production efficiencies
- Expand role of anaerobic manure digestion
- Optimize the animal feed mix and expand the use of animal feed additives 12 16
There are also opportunities to innovate to minimize carbon in agricultural soil, including methods to quantify soil carbon, technologies that accelerate soil carbon sequestration, and innovative financial offerings that reward growers for capturing and maintaining soil carbon. Also, taking steps such as offering cover crops, reducing tillage, and other practices can benefit agricultural product quality by increasing soil organic matter while significantly reducing greenhouse gases.
VC Fuel has partnered with a leading vertical organic farming company which is significantly reducing GHG emissions and is on the path towards a zero carbon future. This partnership provides an excellent example of the potential to revolutionize farming to lower GHG emissions. The company designs, constructs, commissions, owns, and operates customized indoor vertical growing facilities for the production of certified organic produce. It has the only operational, certified organic indoor vertical farm in the US. In addition, it has a solar PV array currently under construction to anchor a renewable energy microgrid that will power the entire operation. Lastly, the company is on the cutting edge of employing machine learning and big data to ensure energy and water are managed efficiently, autonomous monitoring and control of all irrigation, lighting, security, communications, and environmental control devices. For more about this VC Fuel partner company, please visit (Hardee Fresh).