„When it comes to tackling the climate change crisis, the agricultural sector is special because it can contribute not only to the direct reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but also to the increase of carbon sinks, where CO2 from the atmosphere is absorbed and locked in the soil. Therefore, practices, tools and technologies that promote increased carbon storage while also providing other benefits, such as protecting soil biodiversity or increasing soil fertility, are very important and promising. It is welcome that such innovative and environmentally friendly technologies are also being developed in Lithuania,“ said Minister Navickas.
The development and improvement of soil microorganism technology, which has been in development for seven years, is even more relevant in the context of the Green Course, helping agricultural professionals to address the issue of soil quality parameters and productivity.
„Our microbiological preparations are not fertilisers. They are an auxiliary tool that reduces the need for both fertiliser and pesticides. As the microorganisms decompose the residues in the soil, they also stimulate the production of humus, which makes it easier for plants to retain all the nutrients they need, such as CO2 as organic matter, potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen,“ explains Mr Balion.
According to Bioversio's five-year trials, the use of microscopic fungi results in an average annual carbon lock of 1 t/ha, i.e. 3.67 t/ha CO2/ha. With 1.8 million ha of crops in Lithuania, 6.6 million tonnes of CO2 could potentially be sequestered per year – around 2.4 million tonnes more than the total GHG emissions from Lithuanian agriculture.
„With these research and testing results, we see that microbial products can be one of the tools to meet the requirements of the Green Course,“ says Mr Balion.
Microbiology is the future of agriculture
As Europe moves towards sustainability in different sectors, farmers are looking to microbiological products as a way to start meeting the requirements. According to experts, although the popularity of such products is increasing, too few farmers are taking the plunge and using microorganisms. The main reason for this is the lack of knowledge among farmers.
„Some farmers in Lithuania are still very conservative, relying on time-tested methods and want to see the results of various tests before trying new ones, and preferably hear the experience of another farmer. However, those who are determined to use microbiology on their farms are seeing that it works: plants are better nourished, more resistant to disease, and yields can increase by as much as 7–9% on average,“ says Kasparas Mulevičius, a farmer in the Pasvalys region and a member of the cooperative Šiaurės Aruodai.
„According to Arnoldas Jurys, Bioversio's Technology Manager, it should not be surprising that farmers have questions – many have obligations to fulfil, and the farming season in Lithuania is not long. However, the scientist adds that it is also very important to realise that farming can damage and unbalance the soil structure, which can lead to the growth of disease-causing microorganisms and a reduction in nutrients. Microorganism preparations help to redress this balance because they themselves come from nature.
„We see soil microbiology as the future of choice for farmers across Europe, not only because of the requirements of the Green Course but also because the benefits of such products will be understood and exploited. Soil microbiology is about dealing with the causes, while chemicals and fertilisers are needed to deal with the effects. Before soil microbiology, we did not have effective tools to deal with the cause of soil deterioration,“ says A. Jurys, Technology Manager at Bioversio.
The main objective of the Green Deal is to build healthier societies and more sustainable food systems across Europe. To achieve this, the aim is to reduce the European Union's GHG emissions by 55% by 2030 and to become a climate-neutral continent by 2050.