Leaders from nearly 300 agricultural companies gathered at the Greening of Chinese Agriculture Environmental Conference, held by Alltech in Beijing from March 8–9. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and commit to energy conservation, production optimization, improved management practices, and agriculture laws and regulations.
To solidify their commitment to more sustainable agriculture in China, 10 agriculture companies signed a proposal promising to optimize their production processes and work together to realize China’s green agriculture. Additionally, the Soil and Fertilizer Alliance of China signed a memorandum of cooperation with Alltech, aiming to jointly promote regional farming, breeding integration and the sustainable development of animal husbandry.
China’s “No.1 Central Document” for 2017 highlighted agriculture, setting goals for the country’s sustainable development and environmental protection. The agriculture sector in China has faced increasing attention and governmental pressure in recent years, as more stringent laws and regulations have been implemented to address concerns regarding the security and safety of food supply, as well as the environmental impact of farming on land, water and air.
“Since 1989, Alltech has adhered to what we call the ACE principle, a promise that in doing business we have a positive impact on the Animal, the Consumer and the Environment,” said Dr. Mark Lyons, global vice president and head of Greater China for Alltech. “We share China’s vision, and we also understand the challenges being faced in the field and on the farm by farmers. It is our intention that this week’s conference lights a spark that will enable China’s agriculture sector to join together in working toward practical solutions for sustainable farming.”
Alltech’s Greening of Chinese Agriculture Environmental Conference covered a diverse range of topics, including the economic impact of the environment in agriculture, pig farming environmental control through advanced nutritional technology, understanding the new regulations and an outlook to possible future regulations, and more.
According to the State of Food and Agriculture 2016 issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, approximately one-fifth of the world's greenhouse gases come from agriculture, including forestry, fisheries and livestock production.
To address this, China has introduced the “Ten Measures for Prevention and Control of Air Pollution,” creating a more stringent air pollution control law. For example, the government encourages the development of slow release fertilizer and the reduction of ammonia emissions. Additionally, the Law of Air Pollution Prevention 2016 regulates that the emissions of ammonia and volatile organic matter should be reduced, and livestock breeding companies should reduce the discharge of malodorous gases.
According to Dr. Richard Murphy, the research director of Alltech’s European Bioscience Centre, ruminants like cattle and sheep produce most of the greenhouse gas, methane, and the whole industry is currently working to reduce the methane content produced per liter of milk.
“Alltech’s in vitro fermentation model can evaluate methane emissions by simulating the rumen,” said Murphy. “Through routine analysis and in vitro fermentation evaluation, the artificial rumen model helps the farmer to monitor day ration gunk, improve fodder digestibility, optimize rumen fermentation of the animal and therefore reduce waste emissions effectively.”
The ruminant animal forum gathered internationally well-known experts who addressed how to further develop the dairy industry whilst safeguarding the environment. For example, improving feed digestibility to optimize rumen fermentation is an effective way to reduce emissions, and selecting the proper form and feeding level of minerals can reduce heavy metal emissions in feces. Through the experiences and data shared by these global experts, protection of the environment could be seen as more practical and economical.
Urgent environmental problem
As animal husbandry in China is becoming more intensive and large-scale, the excessive amount of heavy metals in the soil has become an urgent environmental problem. Based on the statistics of the “National Soil Pollution Condition Investigation Communique” published by China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Land and Resources, 19.4 percent of the soil in China has exceeded the standard, and the main pollutants are cadmium, nickel, copper, arsenic, mercury and lead. A significant amount of heavy metal pollution, such as arsenic and copper, is produced by feed and feces.
“For this issue, Alltech has a complete quality control system to regulate the heavy metal contamination of feed additive products,” said Steve Elliott, the global director of Alltech’s Mineral Management Division. “Our organic trace minerals and our unique Total Replacement Technology program can have a tremendous impact on reducing heavy metal pollutants in the environment.”
In China, the largest source of ammonia pollution is the extensive use of nitrogen fertilizer in agriculture. The overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has led to serious soil degradation, pest resistance and other issues. Accordingly, this was also addressed by the state’s more stringent air pollution controls in “Ten Measures for Prevention and Control of Air Pollution.”
To address these challenges, Alltech Crop Science focuses on the health of a hidden ally: soil microbes.
“We believe that the natural life has its own mystery, and the vitality of soil derives from the diversity of microbes,” said Weimin Ma, Alltech Crop Science director for China. “Alltech will use its own unique advantages in microbiology, enzymes and nutrigenomics to reduce the use of chemical fertilizers and promote soil health and natural nutrient cycling in China.”
Working together to find solutions
At the conference, the Soil and Fertilizer Alliance of China and Alltech signed a memorandum. The parties agreed to work closely together to explore the agro-ecological possibilities for soil and crop health. With the strength of Alltech’s microbial fermentation-based solutions, the two parties have a vision to develop healthy farm ecosystems and reduce pesticide usage in accordance with the Chinese Department of Agriculture’s goal of ending the growth of pesticide usage by 2020.