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Ecological/Economic KEYS to GHGs balance, quick scale productivity, resilience, food security, water availability, energy supply and income



The effects of Agriculture, Livestock and Forestry in GHGs Atmospheric Balance (1) and Land Resources are described, compared and analyzed their causes.

The core CAUSES are focused and according to them the imperative ACTIONS that drive to Balanced GHGs and Sustainable Land Use. (2)

Specific ecologic and agronomic ACTIONS are proposed and explained as well as economic, such as GHGs and Land Sustainable Refundable Taxes, to initially lead Producers and ultimately the Economic System towards a Sustainable Production Technology.

It is a proposal for the region Pampeana of Argentina, scalable in the country and worldwide.
Net Emissions-Sink in CO2 equivalents/year/person, from Agriculture, Livestock and Forestry in this country, are higher than those of UN country groups like Annex 1 (developed), Non-Annex 1 (developing) and World, unveiling from this perspective an outstanding Unsustainability of such production sector systems and a suitable place to carry out this proposal. (3) (4) (5)

Fundamentals of ecology, economics, agronomy, and management, merge to a result-oriented approach, pivoting around:
The use of natural Ecosystems by Agriculture, Livestock and Forestry is partly responsible for the deterioration of the Atmosphere and Land Resources in the BiosphereDeterioration must become Sustainability to keep the Planet habitable, a challenge that the human species must settle to honor the life and survive.
- Imperative ACTIONS
- MARKET regulations
- URGENCY sense

Watch this VIDEO (References *), a current example of GHGs mitigation and Land Use (agriculture, livestock, forestry) conservation in the northeastern sloping landscape of region Pampeana, Argentina.

(1) IPCC, 2014, from Summary for Policy Makers

IPCC by Sectors


(2) Core CAUSES and imperative ACTIONS for Balanced GHGs / Sustainable Land Use 


(3) GHG Emissions BALANCE / Contribution by Land and Energy Use
Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry / Annex 1, Non-Annex, World, Argentina



What actions do you propose?

To better understand the ACTIONS, a brief about the,


Core CAUSES, summarized below and then explained.


EMISSIONS / R: Reduces; S: Sequesters; I: Increases

GHGs Emissions

+GHGs Balance CAUSES
Agriculture 3 majors GHGs sequestration/emissions sources are:
1. – CO2 Sequestration from Photosynthesis – Respiration = + Biomass (S)
2. + NO2 Emissions from Nitrification/Denitrification due to N fertilization practices (I)
3. + CO2 Emissions from Fossil Fuels used to crop production management as tillage, planting, cultivation, fertilization, weed/ /insects/disease control, harvest, conditioning, storage, transportation, processing, … (I)

+GHGs Emissions CAUSES
Livestock production 4 majors GHGs emissions sources are:
1. +CO2 Emissions from Respiration  (I)
2. +NO2 Emissions from Nitrification/Denitrification due to manure and N fertilization practice when present (I)
3. +CH4 Emissions from Digestion Process/enteric fermentation (I)
4. +CO2 Emissions from Fossil Fuels used in livestock, pasture management, forage production, feeding, transportation, processing, … (I)

+GHGs Balance CAUSES
Forestry 4 majors GHGs sequestration/emissions sources are:
1. +CO2 Emissions balance from Net Photosynthesis decrease, Area cleared  (I)
2. +CO2 Emissions from Biomass Oxidation (natural or burning) of removed Forest  (I)
3. +CO2 Emissions from Fossil Fuels combustion (cutting, transportation, manufacturing, burning,  …) (I)
Afforestation / Replanting
1. –CO2 Sequestration from Net Photosynthesis increase, Area added/recovered  (S)
2. +CO2 Emissions from Fossil Fuel combustion (planting, transportation, manufacturing, processing, …) (I)

Unsustainable Land Use 

AGRICULTURE, LIVESTOCK and FORESTRY, all have  4 majors drivers to Unsustainable Land Use / No Resilient Landscapes

- Unsustainable Land Use CAUSES

a. Soil uncover
Bare Soils exposure to rainfall and wind blowing, drives to ErosionWater Infiltration Decrease, Materials and Nutrient Loss, …  hence to the irreversible soil Deterioration of the Soil Resource and Productivity Decrease.

b. Nutrients and Water cycles break and depletion
used for Biomass Production  are Partially Recycled, except O, H and at times part of C and N, the rest, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, B, Cl, Fe, Mn, Zn, Cu, Mo, Ni, … are mostly Exported out of production fields, as a Slow Mining.
Water often bypasses the normal cycle lowering Aquifers Levels.

c. Agrochemical Pollution
Agrochemical applications (herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, …) to control crop weeds/insects/diseases, pollutes life, atmosphere, water, soil, …

d. Biodiversity Loss
Production is concentrated in quite a Few Majors Crop/Breeds/Species decreasing the amount of Genetic Resources availability, a Key Fundamental Resource for ecosystems structure, function, regulation and hence for Food Security.


Imperative ACTIONS, that can be, rapidly implemented and brought to scale to address, Balanced GHGs and Sustainable, Agriculture, Livestock and Forestry Land Use, summarized below and then detailed and explained.


ACTIONS / R: Reduce; S: Sequesters; 1 to 4 and letters following, a to c, indicate the cause/s to which the action relates


13a. No-Tillage/Terraces   (R+S)
Specific actions:
No-Tillage and/or Terraces, … greatly reduce Water Erosion, as long as they achieve a full soil coverage.
- Coverage/Barrier Plants, … greatly reduce Wind Erosion, as long as they achieve full soil coverage.
The Technology is available.
Full Sustainability means 0-Erosion.

12b. Nutrients/Water Recycling   (R)
Specific actions:
- Crop Residues, must remain in the soil
- Wastes Return, from animal feed and human food to production fields (Industries: Grain Conditioning/Processing, Feed and Food processing, Feed and Food Production, Poultry/Swine/Beef Production, Human, Sewage Treatment, …)
- Nitrogen fixation by legumes/other species in the future, including them as part of rotations.
- New Recycling Industry able to recycle sedimentary nutrients from where, soil erosion and human consumption deposit them (oceans, maritime coasts, lakes, the mouth of rivers, deltas, ...) is imperative to promote.
The Technology available should be applied to return nutrients exported, back to production fields.
Full Sustainability means Complete Nutrient Recycling.

Specific actions:
- Irrigation Adjustment, to maintain and ensure a proper level of aquifers.
The Technology already is enough and available.
Full Sustainability means Aquifers 0-Depletion.

1bc. Biotech/ (weeds, insects, fungus, ... resistance)  (R)
Specific actions:
- Biotech Development, to replace the use of Agrochemicals to control competitors by incorporating resistance.
- Biotech Development to increase yields, incorporate N fixation abilities in crop species, and all kinds of production features (photosynthesis /water use/ nutrient use/ efficiencies, …)
Biotechnology is in part available while growing and developing.  
Full Sustainability means 0-Pollution.

1d. Reservations/National, State, County, Farm level   (S)
Specific actions:
- Beyond National, State, County current Land Reservations, each -Farm/Production Unit must have a part (e.g., 3%) of its land Reserved to keep the biodiversity resource.
Farm Reservations must be followed up with a plan of registrations, that will be invaluable material for research & development of new technologies.
The Technology is already available.
Full Sustainability means from now on 0-Biodiversity loss.

Actual Agriculture is not sustainable (+Emissions + "Unsustainability" a. b. c. d.).
Therefore, we need to adjust the size of agriculture just to the food market demand and security stocks while preventing food prices rising, and meanwhile make it sustainable.
Biofuel production, from Corn (Ethanol), Soybeans (Biodiesel), are neither sustainable nor economic without subsidies. Even from Sugarcane (Ethanol) that is the most efficient, become unsustainable and no economic, when GHGs emissions, erosion, nutrient and water depletionagrochemical pollution, biodiversity loss, ... costs, as well as subsidies, were considered as production costs.

We can start to consider biofuels from non-food feedstock, no- erosion, full-nutrient recycling, no-aquifer level variation, ... costs assessed the full life cycle, unsubsidized cost of fossil fuel, a negative balance of GHGs.
Specific actions:
- Stop Biofuels production from Food Feedstock Commodities source.


14a. No-Tillage/Terraces   (R+S)
(Same as AGRICULTURE 13a.)

12b. Nutrients/Water Recycling   (R)
Specific actions:
- Crop Residues must remain in the soil
- Wastes Return of animal feed and human food to production fields
- Nitrogen fixation by legumes, including them as part of rotations.
The Technology is already available.
Full Sustainability means Complete Nutrient Recycling.

Specific actions:
- Irrigation Adjustment to maintain and ensure a proper level of aquifers.
The Technology is already is available.
Full Sustainability means Aquifers 0-Depletion.

1bc. Biotech/ (weeds, insects, fungus, ... resistance)  (R)
Specific actions:
- Biotech Development  to replace the use of Agrochemicals in Livestock health
- Biotech Development to modify the ability of Livestock to increase feed conversion efficiency, as well as digestion processes dealing with GHGs Emissions as Enteric Fermentation.
Biotechnology is in part available while growing and developing.
Full Sustainability means 0-Pollution.

1d. Reservations/National, State, County, Farm level  (S)
(Same as AGRICULTURE 1 d.)

3. Manure Energy Production  (R)
Specific Actions:
- Livestock Wastes Management use as feedstock to produce methane gas as fuel to power farm generators. The rest of Nutrients simultaneously recycled.
-Technology already is enough and available.
Full Sustainability means complete Nutrients Recycling.

1-4. DECREASE RATIO/  Secondary / Primary  Production
World food production must tend to a lower Secondary/Primary Production ratio, it is imperative a shorter food chain.
Specific actions:
- Reduction of relative production importance of Beef Cattle, by far the least efficient in terms of Food Energy/Feed Energy with swine and poultry..


Deforestation must stop, because: it is a source of GHGs sequestration and leads to soil uncover/erosion, land cleared is occupied by agriculture and/or livestock, yet unsustainable activities, and an irreversible change in the biosphere.
Specific actions:
- Deforestation Stop, everywhere.
The Technology is already available.
Full Sustainability from now on means 0-Deforestation.

12abc. Afforestation + Replanting/Reservation (S)                              
Afforestation and replanting/reservation must start over deforested areas,  damaged by erosion,  deteriorated soils (organic matter loss, nutrients depleted, …).
Specific actions:
- Afforestation and Replanting/Reservation
 in all the areas, damaged by erosion, depletion of nutrients and organic matter loss.
The Technology is already available.
Full Sustainability from now on means 0-Land Resources Deterioration.

1bc. Biotech/(weeds, insects, fungus,…   resistance)   (R)
Specific actions:
- Biotech Development to replace the use of Agrochemicals to control competitors by incorporating resistance.
Biotechnology is in part available while growing and developing.
Full Sustainability means 0-Pollution.

1d. Reservations/ National, State, County,…  Farm level  (S)
Specific actions:
- Beyond National, State, County current Land Reservations, each Farm or production unit must have an (e.g., 3%)  of its land reserved to keep the biodiversity resource.
The technology is already available.
Full Sustainability means from now on 0-Biodiversity loss.


Sustainable Energy Sources/ (Solar, Wind, …)  (R)
Fossil fuel GHG emissions must be drastically decreased (tillage, planting, cultivation, fertilization, weed/insects/disease control, harvest, conditioning, transportation, processing, manufacturing, processing  …

Specific actions:
- Fossil Fuels, Replacement by Solar, Wind, … sources through electric and/or hydrogen powered engines.
Energy Use Efficiency  
Energy Use Efficiency, may be drastically increased, by the already increasing available technology (energy storage, distributed energy, Intelligent grids, Intelligent machinery, …) as well as for the re-design of manufacturing, transportation, distribution, waste reduction,  ... processes.
The Technology is already available, as well as growing and developing fast.
Full Sustainability means 0-Fossil Fuels in the future, anyway.

Products and Services are supplied in the Markets regardless Land deterioration and/or Atmosphere Pollution, their costs are not reflected in quantities nor in prices.
Even if they were, Land and Atmosphere would continue being polluted, depleted, ... just slower.

Specific Actions:
-Two TAXES, GHGs and  LAND SUSTAINABLEREFUNDABLE against the proposed ACTIONS implementation, make converge,
Funding available
Knowhow guidance
Managers motivated (land owners)
For the imperative Conservation Practices required.

At the same time, a powerful way,
Economically appealing
Suitable for numerous and diverse cases, under variable conditions 
Managerially effective and efficient 
To SCALE-UP AgricultureLivestock, and ForestryLandscape Management

Descriptions of taxes are summarized in the following tables.

- LAND SUSTAINABLE TAX / Agriculture, Livestock and Forestry
REFUNDABLE against ACTIONS proposed

- GHGs / EMISSIONS CO2 eq. TAX / Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry 
REFUNDABLE against ACTIONS proposed

Main Variables put together / Implementation work Table 

The higher the Taxation Rate, economically feasible, the greater he Expected Reversion Speed and/or Stop of Land  Degradation and Atmosphere Pollution.


A critical issue outside the scope of this proposal

Who will take these actions?

- Governmental  Bodies / Federal, State, County level
Market Regulations, Taxes, Research, Technology, Education, Promotion

In Argentina
/ Ministerio de Agricultura Ganaderia y Pesca
INTA / Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria
ME / Ministerio de Economía
MPFSE / Secretaría de Energía

- Educational Organizations / Universities, Colleges, Schools 
Education, Research, Technology, Advice
Public and Private Universities

In Argentina 
UBA / Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires
UNLP / Universidad Nacional de La Plata
… … …

And around 100 private and public Universities- 

- Business Organizations / Federal, State, County level,
Advice, Promotion,  Lobby, …

In Argentina 
CREA / Consorcios Regionales de Producción  Agrícola
AAPRESID / Asociación de Productores de Siembra Directa
SRA / Sociedad Rural Argentina
CRA / Confederaciones Rurales Argentinas
CONINAGRO / Confederación Intercooperativa Agropecuaria
FAA / Federación Agraria Argentina
Cooperativas Agrícolas Ganaderas y Forestales
IAE / Instituto Argentino de la Energía GM

Where will these actions be taken?

This Proposal is a set of core ACTIONS to be implemented integrally, tailored to the particular circumstances of each place, to ensure and scale-up Sustainable Land Use and Balanced GHGs Emissions, wherever Agriculture, Livestock or Forestry are performed.

Because LAND SUSTAINABLE and GHGs TAXES to be effective must be lawful, the Global progress of ACTIONS proposed have to be implemented by Country, or Group of Countries among which there is an international agreement on these issues.

Photosynthesis Area
Global Land Photosynthetic Area (NASA)

A country where these ACTIONS may be taken is ARGENTINA, an outstanding producer and manufacturer of agricultural, livestock and forestry commodities for the domestic and international market.

Net Emissions-Sink CO2 eq. /yr. /person from Agriculture, Livestock, and Forestry in Argentina are higher than Annex 1, Non-Annex 1 and World, unveiling an outstanding Unsustainability of its production systems, and a suitable place to carry out this proposal. (3) (4) (5)

Within Argentina, the selected region is the Pampa Húmeda, Pradera Pampeana or Region Pampeana. An extensive farming area of about 540.000 km2, where most of the country large crops (soybeans, corn, wheat, sunflower, …) and livestock (beef, dairy cattle, …) are produced.

Throughout this region an updated and outstanding level of farming technology such as, 0-Tillage, crop rotations, GMO seeds, precision agriculture, fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, animal breeding, rotational grazing, feedlots, ...enables high yields.

Simultaneously, GHGs EmissionsSoil ErosionNutrient Cycles Break and Depletion, Agrochemical Pollution, and Biodiversity Loss, are on a path increasingly irreversible.

Region Pampeana Land Use

Angel L. Cabrera 1976 / Wikipedia / 
The actual Region Pampeana, before the start of actual Land Use, was a Grassland area without trees, surrounded by Forest.

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?


In the Table above, emissions reduction and sequestration by core ACTIONS proposed are estimated along the Time Line:

- Reservations at FARM LEVEL 
Estimated decline: 3

- Biofuels from Food Commodities STOP
Food crops demanding new land lead Deforestation 
Estimated decline: included in Deforestation

- Decrease RATIO Secondary/Primary Production
Shortening the trophic chain, more efficient, is the best way to reduce emissions and/or increase the sequestration of CO2.
Additionally, inside the Secondary Productionefficiency must drive the relative importance of cattle, swine, poultry, … according their efficiencies.
Estimated decline: 1/3 

- Deforestation STOP
Estimated decline: 100 %

- Fossil Fuel REPLACEMENT by Sustainable sources (solar, wind, …) + Energy Use Efficiency
Estimated decline: 1/3

Estimates are calculated within the context of "ACTIONS proposed against Refundable Taxes", a powerful Investment incentive for Producers (farmers, companies, business, ...).


What are other key benefits?


Life: Conservation / HEALTH / DIVERSITY 
Nutrients: Cycles / AVAILABILITY

Energy Flow: Food Chain / SECURITY
Balances: Feed Back Processes / HABITAT SUSTAINABILITY 


Markets: Regulations / WEALTH SUSTAINABILITY

Taxes become >
Conservation Investments become >
Prices/Quantity/Quality adjustments become >
People Economic Behavior becomes >

Conservation Investments, boost the Conservation Related Industry
- Soil Erosion Prevention Services (terraces, plant barriers, ...)
- BIOTECH (insect resistance, enteric fermentation decrease, animal conversion efficiency, ...)
- FOSSIL FUEL REPLACEMENT (Solar, Wind, Animal Waste, ... Energy)
- Energy Efficiency (Transmission and Distribution Technology, ...)
- Forestry / Afforestation / Replanting Services (nurseries, management, ...)

What are the proposal’s costs?

Initially, Costs are paid by Landowners, that through Refundable Land Sustainable and GHG Taxes have the opportunity/duty to make and manage needed Conservation Investments in their own land.

Conservation Investments, at the same time become a great promotion for the Conservation Industry (Soil Erosion Prevention Services, BIOTECH industry, CLEAN ENERGY industry, Energy Efficiency industry, Forestry Services, …), detailed in the chapter above "Other key benefits".

Ultimately, as these Taxes or other Equivalent Tools are spread in the World, Costs are paid by Agriculture, Livestock and Forestry Consumers, through a combination of price, amount and quality adjustments on their purchases, enabling this way of Environmental Care to the whole Economic System.

For the Federal and/or State/County administration just remain the design, discussion, presentation, approvals, harmonization, implementation, registration, supervision and improvement of the New Taxes, that can be largely absorbed by the actual administration fixed costs, reassigned.

The currently in force Export Tax for Agriculture, Livestock and Forestry sectors in Argentina, definitely unsustainable, could be replaced by these, with much Lower and Refundable tax burden.

The Public Sector with the free advice from Business Associations and Educational Organizations have all the information and expertise needed to accomplish this proposal.

Tasks and Costs sharing

ACTIONS: Farmer Investments against Tax Refunding

Design / INTA
Advice / Business Associations, Educational Organizations
, … / MAGyP
Implementation, Measurements, Application Tables, … / INTA
Supervision / INTA

Actual technical teams already working at the MAGyP and INTA, costs already included in their Annual Budget

In ongoing activities like Biofuels, High Secondary/Primary Production Ratio, and others, where there are involved long-term investments, previously promoted by law, term/specific arrangements will be necessary. 

Time line


In the Table above, each Phase includes the time needed to design, present, get approval and implement the Policy, as well as harmonize Federal, States and County's requirements. 

Phase 1
- "Implementation" of the imperative ACTIONS proposed 
Record, MeasurementsSupervision, ResultsAdjustments, ...           region Pampeana
- Bill
and Law Approval "National Plan / Balanced GHGs /                   Sustainable Land Use (agriculture, livestock, forestry)" 
- Goals (Tables HOW MUCH and TIME LINE)

Phase 2
- "Same Path" + First Phase experience 
- Law Improvement  "National Plan / Balanced GHGs / Sustainable Land Use (agriculture, livestock, forestry)"
- Goals 100

Phase 3
50-100 years
- "Stabilization"
- New Issues
- Goals: Stabilization at 100 % Balanced GHGs / Sustainable Land Use (agriculture, livestock, forestry)

For more detail along Phase 2 and 3 are necessary data for at least five years of Phase 1.

Related proposals

Generation of Biogas energy from animal waste for use in rural areas /  asigealex

Nicaragua: Carbon Sink, Economic Driver & Medicinal Plant Preservation /  Cecalli Esteli 

Woody Agriculture: Breeding & Implementing Hazelnut & Chestnut as Staple Crops /  Badgersett Research 

Land Use: Agriculture, Livestock & Forestry 2014 by  Kijani

Contest 2011: National by  maruf


Héctor A. Hermida M.