Growing Returns

Selected tag(s): GHG emissions

Major banks are setting climate targets. What the agricultural finance sector needs to know.

Many major banks have set targets to reduce financed greenhouse gas emissions in their loan portfolios to zero by 2050 (also known as net zero targets). They join a growing movement of companies throughout the agricultural supply chain to set ambitious targets to reach net zero by 2050 to prevent the most severe impacts from climate change.

The Banking for Impact on Climate in Agriculture (B4ICA) initiative recently published “An introductory guide for net zero target setting for farm-based agricultural emissions” that shares best practices for banks to set net zero GHG emissions targets for their agricultural loan portfolios. The guidance helps banks setting agricultural sector emissions reduction targets as part of their commitments to the Net Zero Banking Alliance ­— an alliance of 122 banks representing 40% of global bank assets that have committed to aligning their assets with net zero GHG emissions by 2050 or sooner. Read More »

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USDA gives big boost to sustainable farming in North Carolina

Woman on a farmEnvironmental Defense Fund’s efforts to improve sustainable farming practices through the grain supply chain received another boost, thanks to a USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) grant of $500,000 in North Carolina.

The award supports EDF’s collaboration with Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, and brings in university and grower organization partners. In 2014, Smithfield’s hog production division made a commitment to engage 75 percent of its grain sourcing acres, or about half a million acres, in sustainable farming practices by 2018. These practices reduce fertilizer losses to the water and air, thereby improving water quality and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2015, through a sustainability program called MBGro, Smithfield helped farmers plant cover crops, use efficient nitrogen sensors, and employ other conservation practices on nearly 100,000 acres in the Southeast. Earlier this year, the company announced the expansion of its sustainable grain program to its Midwest sourcing region with ag retailer United Suppliers.

And now, the RCPP project officially kicks off this week – and will directly engage producers to expand conservation practices in agriculture. Here’s what it entails. Read More »

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New research helps farmers set targets for reducing emissions



The easiest way to tackle fertilizer pollution is to lower the amount of nitrogen applied to crops, thereby reducing nutrient losses into the air and water. The problem is, reducing fertilizer rates can also shrink crop yields, which means less income for farmers and less food on our plates.

So here’s the question: how can we slash nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture without sacrificing productivity?

To meet this challenge, scientists need to understand the relationship between “nitrogen surplus” (the amount of applied nitrogen fertilizer not taken up by the plant), “nutrient use efficiency” (the ratio of how much yield you get from each pound of fertilizer applied) and nitrous oxide emissions that contribute to climate change. The more nitrogen a plant absorbs, the less it releases into the air in the form of nitrous oxide and into the water where it can contribute to harmful algal blooms. Read More »

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