circular economy. for food security. for our health.

At generizon, we believe that biogas plays a vital role in a circular and regenerative economy.

green revolution.

Once there was a Green Revolution (~1950-90): agricultural production increased thanks to irrigation, seed development, the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, and – the reliance of machines powered with crude oil. As a consequence, energy consumption to produce a crop increased and the ratio of crop output to energy input decreased. From 1961 to 1999, the area of irrigated land nearly doubled; the use of nitrogenous and phosphate fertilizers increased by 638% and 203% and the production of pesticides increased by 854%.

The ‘green’ revolution was not green at all and today, we have come to understand that what matters most is sustainability.

Monocultures replaced polycultures and agricultural production patterns changed and led to misuse of land for animal feed or biofuel. A decrease in biodiversity (only few high-yield varieties of each crop are now favored) and a change in diet are one of the sources of today’s widespread malnutrition, iron and vitamin deficits, obesity.

agriculture. sustainability problems.

Our eco-system is in jeopardy, with climate change being the most dangerous threat that we face. Climate change impacts the water cycles of the planet; it effects agriculture the most, which accounts for 70% of all freshwater usage. Droughts, floods, fires and freezes, all do their damages directly to water supplies and global crops. Yields suffer. People suffer. Food insecurity and social instability go together; food related riots might become common in the years to come!

Agriculture has a big mission ahead, a nine billion population to feed by 2050, perhaps eleven billion by 2100. Yet 80% of our arable land is already in use.

The UN estimates that 30% of all food we produce goes to waste. Those 30% account for 10% of all energy consumption.

The reality is man is responsible for all waste and the more we waste the more we accelerate climate change.

regenerative circular economy.

A restorative industrial economy knows two types of material flows:

  • biological nutrients, designed to reenter the biosphere safely, and
  • technical nutrients, designed to circulate at high quality without entering the biosphere. (wikipedia)

The “take, make, dispose” approach is quite linear, depletes finite resources to create products that end up in landfills or in incinerators. In a feed-back rich system, different loops exist; waste becomes a production resource and energy ! Approaches including cradle to cradle (reuse, repair, re-manufacture, upgrade), bio-mimicry (innovation inspired by nature, in nature there is no waste, one organisms waste is another organisms food), industrial and agro-ecology, etc.

Economy should function like a living organisms; process nutrients that can be fed back into the cycle. Localization, regional job creation, fitting with infrastructure, the environment and the social system are as important as renewable energy use, or diversity, modularity, versatility and adaptivity of products and solutions.

This circular framework of thinking shall guide beyond where we stand right now, beyond oil, beyond industrial fertilizer.

new green revolution. a big role to science.

‘Better food, more of it, with less waste and water and fewer chemicals’.

So simple! A new revolution in agriculture for farmers and food producers shall increase efficiency dramatically. Technological innovations, agricultural policy changes and socioeconomic changes must all work together.

  • Internet of things (monitor efficiency along the entire value chain),
  • Move out of chemical farming (yields are just as good in organic farming, we have to change the system of subsidies),
  • Change diet (40% of agricultural production currently feeds animals),
  • Farms need to produce their own energy (solar, wind, geothermal, biogas).
  • Climate-smart farming: polycultures, adaptive species/semen use less/no water, plant trees for shade, bushes for fences, collect dung as natural fertilizers, etc.
  • Other technological innovations may include vertical in-house urban farming, food-smart cities, drones and cameras (crop monitoring), satellite imagery and mapping GIS, better weather forecasts; in other words a lot more of smart shared data.

biogas. part of the circle.

In a circular economy, biogas has a vital role to play. It is part of the circle, turning waste into energy and organic fertilizer.

Capturing the greenhouse gas methane, substituting fossil and vehicle fuels with bio-methane, and replacing synthetic fertilizers by organic fertilzers. Biogas delivers solutions that are central to ensuring environmental sustainability, counter the effects of climate change, protect surface and ground waters, and make sensible use of limited resources.

This is the fascination that keeps us busy at generizon, biogas.