Academic journal article European Journal of Sustainable Development

Technological Implementation in the Brazilian Family Farming Context in Order to Minimize CO2 and CH4 Emissions, a Feasibility Analysis

Academic journal article European Journal of Sustainable Development

Technological Implementation in the Brazilian Family Farming Context in Order to Minimize CO2 and CH4 Emissions, a Feasibility Analysis

Article excerpt


Greenhouse gases concentration in the atmosphere has grown exponentially in recent years as consequence of anthropic activities. Agriculture, like most of economic sectors, produces greenhouse gases and these emissions are generally related to agricultural soils management, livestock, rice production and biomass burning.

In recent years, aspects such as economic trends, regulatory instruments, farm management practices, and trends in the number of ruminant animals have influenced greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. Most farm-related emissions come in the form of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Sources include manure management, rice cultivation, field burning and fuel use on farms. At the farm level, the relative size of different sources will vary widely depending on the type of activities and products grown, farming practices employed, and geographical factors.

In Brazil, agriculture importance is unquestionable as it counts for 1/3 of total commodities exportation, specifically 39% in 2014 (WTO, 2016) and represents a total area of almost 33% of the national territory, around 250 thousand Ha. (FAO, 2016). This economic sector counted for an average emissions of 450 thousand CO2 equivalent in 2012 and it is expected to raise around 12,5% by 2030 (FAO, 2016).

In southern Brazil, agriculture is highly related to family farming and in Biguaçu County, State of Santa Catarina, traditional family farming represents most of the county's activity. These family farmers carry out a particular land use on which agriculture, forest and energy production are related. These farmers perform fallow agriculture in secondary subtropical forests (Atlantic Forest biome) where, energy production is made in the form of charcoal.

Traditional charcoal production in Biguaçu is not different from the national production context, where, according to Sablowski (2008), charcoal is obtained with the use of rudimentary techniques, unskilled labor and small resource allocation. Charcoal from Biguaçu is aimed to domestic market, specifically to barbecue cooking. A great part of this charcoal is produced outlawed in brick beehive kilns under traditional practices of agriculture and forest management and its production control is made under subjective aspects, such as heat felt in the hands, smoke's color and smell and farmer's experience. Recent studies, (ARAÚJO et al. 2013) (FANTINI et al. 2010) (ULLER-GOMES et al. 2015) have demonstrated that illegality because of traditional practices have shown to be a great threat to forests, traditional knowledge, environment, local farmers quality of life and governmental policies and accountability because of the lack reliable data from these activities. As a result, national statistics about charcoal production in the family farming context are not accurate, as they take into account only legal activities.

In addition, producers have not been able to access technical aid and consequently it is perceptible the lack of more efficient technologies in the field, which could make charcoal production effortless and environmentally friendly. It is estimated that for each kilogram of charcoal produced, it is emitted 1382 g of CO2, 324 g of CO and 47,6 g of CH4 (PENNISE 2003). According to Villazon, charcoal's production yield under this context is not as high as it should be, it is around 13% and environmental and health impacts are very high (VILLAZON, 2013).

In view of the explicit establishment by Brazilian authorities, in late 2009, in the urgency of accurate the national inventory of emissions, especially in the rural context; therefore, the importance of an accurate accountability of these activities in order to take proper actions to mitigate or adapt agricultural practices, specifically efficient environmental policies.

Considering that during wood carbonization process, charcoal is only a fraction of possible products that can be obtained; it is advantageous to adapt an appropriate technology in order to obtain co-products from the combustion gasses, improving production gravimetric yield and decreasing environmental impacts. …

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