Learn about smarter farming and food production for green and sustainable growth during IFAJ 2022 congress.
By Frederik Thalbitzer, chairman of Danish Food and Agricultural Journalists
The terrible war that has broken out in Ukraine is affecting us all. First of all, it’s awful to see people suffer and flee their country. People staying back must fight if they can, or live in fear of bombs and soon possibly also food shortages.
As Russia is a major gas exporter and exporter of fertilizers, and both Russia and Ukraine major grain exporters, the war comes as a wake up call telling that the future places new demands on agriculture and energy production.
Many Western European countries are dependent on Russian gas and a number of countries—also outside Europe—are dependent on imports of grain and fertilizer, the scarcity of which will affect prices worldwide.
The theme of the IFAJ2022 congress hits right into these agendas: Smarter farming and food production for green and sustainable growth.
Let’s start with the energy. If you want to be independent of Russian gas, biogas from agriculture can contribute. In the last 10 years, the production of biogas in Denmark has increased from 4 to 34 petajoules – a ninefold increase, and biogas today covers 25 percent of gas consumption. According to the organization Biogas Denmark, biogas can completely replace fossil gas in 2027 (60 petajoules), if the expansion is given a boost, and with the current prices of gas, it will be profitable.
Biogas simultaneously solves climate and environmental problems:
The increased biogas production will reduce nitrogen emissions to the aquatic environment. This is because the degassing of manure and slurry in biogas plants makes the nitrogen more accessible to the plants.
Biogas also raises some of the most difficult challenges in the climate fight. The biogas plants collect the greenhouse gas methane from manure, and reduce emissions to the atmosphere. Straw, slaughterhouse waste and in the long run household waste can also be degassed and thus supplement livestock manure, recycle nutrients and increase gas production.
During the IFAJ2022 congress, there are four opportunities for visits to biogas plants to see how it is produced and used in different contexts. Both on farm facilities and on larger communal facilities.
There will also be an excursion to the company Høst ptx Esbjerg – a project that will produce 600,000 tons of green ammonia using electrolysis. Instead of fossil fuels, wind and sun are used as energy sources. Fossil energy consumption is the biggest climate challenge in artificial fertilizers, so the production of green ammonia will be an advance that can sustain food production in a sustainable way and at the same time reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, energy is produced for heating homes.
Slurry turned into aviation fuel
Manure can also be converted into aviation fuel. The Danish climate technology company Stiesdal is busy scaling up its Sky-Clean technology which, according to scientists, has the potential to cut emissions from Danish agriculture in half.
You can also visit SkyClean during the congress.
The core of SkyClean is a pyrolysis process in which organic waste from agriculture and forestry is heated to a very high temperature in the absence of oxygen. It can be manure and straw, for example. Upon heating, it is converted to biochar, gas and oil. Dry plant material typically contains approx. 50% carbon that the plants have extracted from the atmosphere in the form of CO2. In the pyrolysis process, half of the carbon in the waste is converted into biochar, which is dispersed in the fields and raises the carbon content. Biochar is a stable material that only decomposes very slowly, and the half of the carbon that becomes biochar is thus effectively removed from the atmosphere for a long time. The half of the carbon that does not turn into biochar comes out of the pyrolysis process as gas and oil. The gas can be used as fuel in the heat supply and in industry, and the oil can be refined into fuel for the transport sector.
Here, too, the process delivers on several agendas, namely climate, environment and green energy, which reduce the need for imports of fossil fuels.
Of course, these are just some of the things you can see at the IFAJ2022. Other groundbreaking technologies include a visit to BioRefine, which makes protein from grass and other crops. Protein that can be eaten by monogastric animals, of course. Even in fish feed they try with proteins from grass. New protein sources are important, at least in Europe, so that the raw materials do not have to be transported very far.
At the IFAJ2022 congress in Denmark you can participate in 4 four excursions and there are 20 different to choose from. You can focus on different topics, it could be cattle, pigs, energy, nature, plant production and much more. If you miss a bit of excitement, you can also go on an excursion that includes bridgewalk high above the blue sea.
In addition, there are debates, workshops seminars and much more
The biogas plant in the background improves the value of his slurry and collect the greenhouse gas methane from manure, and reduce emissions to the atmosphere. Photo: Nature Energy.
Normally, only ruminants can digest grass, but BioRefine can produce protein for monogastric animals and humans from grass. Photo: BioRefine.