During the ‘Week of DG Agriculture and Rural Development stakeholders’ at EXPO in Milan, Fertilizers Europe had the opportunity to organize a conference on 10th September to present two recent projects on Nitrogen-Use Efficiency through the Nitrogen Expert Panel and sustainable agriculture with the Cool Farm Tool.
The conference was opened by Mr. Tassos Haniotis, Director of DG Agriculture, who insisted on the importance of the role of indicators in monitoring the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy). Those indicators are important to measure its performance.
Prof. Oene Oenema, from Wageningen University and Prof. Jan Willem Erisman, from Louis Bolk Institute explained to the audience the Nitrogen Expert Panel[i] and the importance of a Nitrogen Use Efficiency indicator (NUE) along the food chain. The Panel has gathered selected key experts from science, governmental policy, industry and the food chain. Its goal is to improve the Nitrogen-Use Efficiency in the food chain across Europe as well as globally. Nitrogen is essential for life. The ambition is to encourage best use of nitrogen to mitigate threats to our health and the environment. This is where a Nitrogen Use Efficiency indicator is essential to achieve this goal and where the Nitrogen Expert Panel puts its effort by generating new ideas to balance the use of N in the world with proper tools and knowledge.
After a short break, Prof. Jon Hillier, from Aberdeen University and Mark Pettigrew, from PepsiCo, presented another monitoring tool where Fertilizers Europe is also part of, the Cool Farm Tool (CFT), a tool initiated by Unilever and the University of Aberdeen in 2008. It is an environmental impact calculator that is free for farmers to help them measure and reduce the carbon footprint of crop and livestock products. It is science-based and used by farmers but also by buyers to quantify and manage environmental impacts in global supply chains. It is still being improved everyday thanks to the work of the CFA (Cool Farm Alliance, started in 2012) represented by industries and scientists. The tool engages growers and develops key relationships between the different partners of the food chain. Mr. Pettigrew stated ‘Partnership is key to delivering sustainable agriculture’. Mr. Max Schulman, from COPA COGECA, the European Farmers’ Association, presented the farmers perspevtive on the practical uses of the tool. Although he was overall very positive and interested in using emissions indicators, a few questions arose: can the use of the CFT help to get better understanding from the big public in environment perspective? What will it do to the market when big companies use the tool? What about the ownership of the data? Where is the value for small farmers?
Finally, Jacob Hansen, Director General of Fertilizers Europe, presented its initiative ‘Infinite Fertilizers’ which encompasses our work on both the Nitrogen Expert Panel and Cool Farm Tool.
Our event at EXPO Milano was a successful and gathered a good audience from the fertilizers industry, farmers community, scientists and journalists. The Q&A session was very lively. More information on the Nitrogen Expert Panel can be found at www.eunep.com and on the Cool Farm Tool at www.coolfarmtool.org
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[i] Mr. Haniotis, Mr. Oenema, Mr. Erisman, Mr. Hillier and Mr. Schulman are all part of the Nitrogen Expert Panel.